Seasonal Influenza Treatment
- What It Is
- Risk Factors
- Living With
- User Questions
- Alternative Treatment
- Care Guide
- Questions for Your Doctor
- When to Contact a Doctor
- Find a Doctor
- Resource Guide
How to Treat Seasonal Influenza
Treatment may include:
Antiviral Prescription Medicines
Most people with the flu do not need antiviral medicine. If you have the flu, check with your doctor to see if you need antiviral medicine. You will need it if you are in a high-risk group or if you have a severe illness (like breathing problems).
Antiviral medicines generally may help relieve symptoms and shorten the time you are sick. They must be taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms.
Antiviral medicines include:
- Zanamivir (Relenza)-This may worsen Asthma-Adult or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
- Oseltamivir (Tamiflu)-Some kinds of seasonal influenza virus are resistant to this drug.
- Amantadine (Symmetrel)-Some kinds of seasonal influenza virus are resistant to this drug.
- Rimantadine (Flumadine)-Some kinds of seasonal influenza virus are resistant to this drug.
Oseltamivir (and perhaps zanamivir) may increase the risk of self-injury and confusion shortly after taking, especially in children. Children should be closely monitored for signs of unusual behavior.
It is important to get plenty of rest when your body is fighting the flu.
Drink a lot of liquids. This can include water, juice, and caffeine-free tea.
Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
These medications are used to control fever and to treat aches and pains. Adults can use:
Decongestants are available as pills or nasal sprays. If you use a nasal spray, don't use it longer than 3-5 days. You may experience an increase in congestion when you stop using the spray. This is called rebound.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines, including decongestants, expectorants, antihistamines, and cough suppressants
- OTC cough and cold products should not be used to treat infants or children less than two years old. Rare but serious side effects have been reported. They include death, convulsions, rapid heart rates, and decreased levels of consciousness. Serious side effects have also been reported in children aged 2-11 years. Research is still going on for the safety of OTC products for this age group.
- Prescription cough medicines
- Cough drops
Elderberry extract may reduce flu symptoms. Researchers found that products containing elderberry, like Sambucol and ViraBLOC, decreased symptoms in some studies. But be aware that herbal remedies are not regulated by the government. So the herbal supplements that you buy may not have the same ingredients as those studied and they may contain impurities (things that should not be in the product).
If you are diagnosed with the flu, follow your doctor's instructions.