What Is the Best Medicine for the Flu?

Reviewed on 2/25/2021
The best flu medicine would be to rest and get plenty of fluids.
The best flu medicine would be to rest and get plenty of fluids.

The best flu medicine would be to rest and get plenty of fluids. Most symptoms of flu such as a fever, a runny nose, and blocked sinuses can be managed by acetaminophen and antihistamine medications. However, if the patient has a severe infection or is at a higher risk of complications, the physician may prescribe the following antivirals:

Antiviral drugs can shorten the patient’s illness by about a day. They also prevent severe complications of flu such as pneumonia. However, these have a higher incidence of side effects than other antibiotics. Therefore, take them only if really required.

Antiviral drugs should be started within 2 days of getting sick to be effective.

Benefits of taking antiviral drugs include:

  • Antiviral drugs shorten the time of being sick by about 1 day if a patient takes them within 2 days.
  • They reduce the risk of ear infection, respiratory complications, and hospitalization.
  • They reduce the risk of severe flu complications such as pneumonia.
  • Early antiviral treatment can reduce the risk of death in a patient who is hospitalized.

How long should antiviral drugs be taken?

The duration for different drugs to treat flu varies as follows:

  • Oseltamivir or inhaled zanamivir: A patient should take this drug for 5 days.
  • Intravenous peramivir or oral Baloxavir: The doctor gives these drugs for 1 day.

The doctor will usually give oseltamivir to a patient who is hospitalized. Some patients may require more than 5 days of oseltamivir therapy.

Who should take antiviral drugs?

The doctor should immediately start antiviral drugs in a patient who is hospitalized. Moreover, the doctor should also give these to a patient with severe flu symptoms and who is at a high risk of flu complications. Below is a list of health and age factors that likely increases a patient’s risk of flu complications:

Other groups that are at a high risk of flu include:

  • Adults who are 65 years and older
  • People with diabetes
  • People with cancer on chemotherapy
  • People with HIV
  • Children younger than 2 years of age
  • Pregnant women and 2 weeks post-delivery women
  • American Indians and Alaska natives
  • People living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

QUESTION

Which illness is known as a viral upper respiratory tract infection? See Answer

What are the potential side effects of antiviral drugs?

The side effects may differ for each drug. The side effects of these drugs include:

What are the preventive measures to be taken if you are sick with flu?

A patient should take the following measures if they observe any symptoms of flu:

  • They should wash their hands often for 20 seconds with soap and water. They should use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable.
  • They should make sure to cough and sneeze into the sleeves of the elbow.
  • They should limit their contact with others while they are sick to prevent the risk of infection.
  • They should clean and disinfect the surfaces and objects contaminated with germs such as flu.
  • They should get an annual flu shot provided they have no contraindications for the same.

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References
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/treatment/treatment.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/treatment/whatyoushould.htm

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