Body aches, migraines, and fever are just some of the symptoms that await you if you contract the flu this year. However, there’s hope if you decide to fight back with antiviral medication.
Fever, muscle aches, runny nose, sore throat, and fatigue — flu symptoms can leave you feeling so bad that they stop you right in your tracks. But there are self-care measures and over-the-counter (OTC) medications that can help you feel better. In some cases, your doctor may recommend an antiviral medication to reduce the duration of your illness.
Treating the Flu: The First Steps
Obviously, the easiest way to treat the flu is simply not to contract the illness. An annual flu vaccine is the first line of defense when protecting against flu viruses. If you do get the flu, most people will recover in one to two weeks without complications. Here are several ways to start managing your symptoms:
- Take time off. Staying away from work or school will give your body the time it needs to recover from the flu and will reduce the chances of spreading the illness to others. Taking time off doesn’t mean working from home — getting plenty of rest, especially while you have a fever, gives your body the strength it needs to fight the virus.
- Increase fluid intake. Drinking clear fluids is important for loosening mucus and decreasing your risk of dehydration.
- Avoid tobacco and alcohol. Stop smoking so as to not exacerbate flu symptoms. Avoid drinking alcohol while you are recovering from the flu as well.
- Take OTC medication as necessary. OTC medication (e.g., pain relievers, decongestants, cough suppressants, expectorants) can help treat many of your flu symptoms. Never give medication with aspirin to children or teenagers who have a viral illness — aspirin has been linked to a serious illness known as Reye’s syndrome in young people who are recovering from a virus, like the flu or chickenpox.
Treating the Flu: Antiviral Medication
In certain situations, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication, like Tamiflu, which can help treat the flu. Antivirals come in the form of pills, liquid medication, and inhaled medication. They prevent the virus from spreading in your body, which can help fight against the flu.
Antiviral medications can shorten the length of your illness and make flu symptoms milder. They can also reduce your risk of flu complications, which is why antivirals are often recommended for people who are at high risk (children, older adults, people with certain pre-existing conditions).
If you think antivirals may be right for you, contact your doctor as soon as possible after getting sick. These medications are most effective when you begin using them within two days of the onset of flu symptoms.
The antiviral medications that have been approved for treating the flu in the United States include:
- Oseltamivir (Tamiflu): approved to prevent and treat certain flu infections in people ages 1 and older
- Zanamivir (Relenza): approved to treat certain flu infections in people ages 7 and older, and prevent certain flu infections in people ages 5 and older
- Amatadine (Symmetrel): approved to treat and prevent influenza A in people ages 1 and older
- Rimantadine (Flumadine): approved to treat influenza A infections in people ages 13 and older, and prevent certain flu infections in people ages 1 and older
Depending on the flu season, your doctor may recommend one antiviral medication over another. Talk with your doctor to find out if antivirals may be an option for you.
Source: http://www.everydayhealth.com March 7, 2013