If you have been unfortunate to catch the influenza or flu virus and have got the disease, you are in for a period of some miserable days ahead. The flu cycle and the progress of the flu virus invasion  in the body will tell you, how long you are going to stay that way.

What with symptoms that have hit you suddenly and making you lie in bed not wanting to do anything else. It can be days of misery and total boredom.

And, even if can move around, you can’t, for fear of passing on the infection to your family and others.

You’re eager to know how soon you will recover from the symptoms and feel well again.

This post does just that. It explains the cycle of the flu illness and the progression of its symptoms.

You take the pills that the doctor has given you, but they only help alleviate the symptoms somewhat. They help to bring down the fever, but the generalized weakness, body aches, headache, joint and muscle pain  will keep you down.

However, about 30% of flu sufferers are lucky in the sense that though they are infected with the flu virus, symptoms are absent. However, they can still be contagious.

Let us see how the flu cycle runs and the symptoms progress as the days pass and you head for recovery. This describes the timeline of the normal flu cycle that has not been beset with complications.

The flu life cycle chart


Time period –>

The first two days

The next five to seven days The last days before recovery
What happens in the body –> The flu virus has entered your body through one or more ways of  its modes of transmission. It enters the epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract and starts multiplying. Your immune system realizes that the body has been invaded by the virus and gets active. It directs the cells of the immune system towards the virus to neutralize it and stop it from multiplying. Your immune system has finally gained control of the virus.


How you feel –> The virus has not yet made you feel sick. You don’t realize that you have been infected. You start experiencing the flu symptoms, the onset of which is sudden.

The initial symptoms can be high fever with chills, sneezing, fatigue, body aches, muscle and joint pains.

The main flu symptoms start disappearing. This time period will vary and will depend on two things:

The strength of your immune system versus the virulence of the flu virus

What you should do    –>          You cannot do anything because you don’t know you are infected. You carry on with the usual life routine. In the process, you can spread the flu infection to others because you can become contagious one day before fever begins. Take rest to help your body recuperate. Hydrate well.

Over the counter (OTC) drugs such as aspirin and/or acetaminophen will help keep the fever down, antihistamines and cough drops will help control your cold and cough.

You are now highly contagious. Stay at home to avoid infecting others. Use a face mask and wash your hands with soap often.

Call the doctor if your condition does not improve with the OTC drugs.

Take rest. You could still be feeling weak and you could still be infective.

Though the main symptoms disappear, you could still experience weakness, fatigue, dry cough, and loss of appetite.

These symptoms can last for two weeks or more.

You can go to back to work when your body says it is time. Usually, it can be about two days after the fever and other symptoms have subsided.



How long can you be contagious? You could read about that in this post , which describes how you get the flu virus and how it spreads.

The time periods of the various aspects of the flu cycle mentioned above, are an estimate of a normal uncomplicated flu pattern, which can last for one to two weeks. There can be variations and extensions of the timeline depending on whether you host the flu risk factors.

To save yourself from getting a severe attack of flu and suffering a long flu timeline, get yourself and your family vaccinated every year before the onset of the flu .season

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