Influenza (Seasonal Flu)
Some antiviral medicines reduce the severity and shorten the duration of influenza (flu) symptoms by 1 to 1½ days if given within 48 hours of the first symptoms.Reference 1 These medicines are not intended to substitute for getting a flu vaccine each year. Rather, antiviral medicines may help control outbreaks and prevent the spread of infection, especially in people at Reference high risk for flu complications.
The antiviral medicines oseltamivir and zanamivir are used to prevent and treat influenza A and B infections. They can reduce the severity and shorten the duration of flu symptoms.Reference 7 Amantadine and rimantadine have been used to help prevent and treat the flu caused by influenza A (but not influenza B) infection. But for the past few years the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised doctors not to use amantadine or rimantadine to treat or prevent the flu.Reference 6 These medicines have not worked against most types of the flu virus. It is important to talk with your doctor about the medicine that is best for you.
Two types of antiviral medicines can treat influenza infections:
- Reference Amantadine or Rimantadine (used to prevent or treat influenza A infections)
- Reference Oseltamivir or Zanamivir (used to treat and prevent influenza A and B infections)
What to think about
The effectiveness of antiviral medicines can vary from year to year. Some years a medicine may not work against the types of influenza virus causing symptoms. Your doctor can help you decide whether antiviral medicines are likely to help you.
Most people do not need antiviral medicines. They recover from influenza without having Reference complications.
But since most people who have the flu feel quite sick, some people may choose to take medicine even if they are at low risk for complications.
You cannot prevent the flu or make yourself feel better faster by taking:
- Antibiotics. For more information, see the topic Reference Using Antibiotics Wisely.
- Large doses of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C or zinc.
- Herbal remedies, such as echinacea.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference July 9, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Christine Hahn, MD - Epidemiology