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Treating the Flu In People With Health Risks (cont.)

What are the possible side effects of antiviral drugs?

Some side effects have been associated with the use of influenza antiviral drugs, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, runny or stuffy nose, cough, diarrhea, headache and some behavioral side effects. These are uncommon. Your doctor can give you more information about these drugs or you can check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) websites.

When should antiviral drugs be taken for treatment?

Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick. However, starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk health condition (see list below) or is very sick from the flu. Follow your doctor's instructions for taking this drug.

What antiviral drugs are recommended?

There are two antiviral drugs recommended by the CDC and approved by the FDA for flu treatment. These are oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu®) and zanamivir (brand name Relenza®). Tamiflu® comes as a pill or liquid, and Relenza® is an inhaled powder. (Relenza should NOT be used in anyone with breathing problems, like asthma or COPD, for example.) These drugs have been in use since 1999. There are no generic flu antiviral drugs.


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