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How Does Flu Medicine Work

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How To Get The Flu Vaccine

The Flu and You | Does antiviral medication work against the current strain of the flu?

The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. It’s offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications.

The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn before flu starts spreading. But you can get the vaccine later.

The flu vaccine is given to people who:

  • are 50 and over
  • have certain health conditions
  • are pregnant
  • are in a long-stay residential care
  • receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • live with someone who is more likely to get infections
  • frontline health or social care workers

You can have the NHS flu vaccine at:

  • your GP surgery

When Should You Start Taking Flu Medicine

Antiviral flu medicine is most effective when treatment is initiated within two days of flu symptoms appearing. While acetaminophen and cough medicine can be taken at any time during your illness, taking these medications when symptoms begin may help your body get more rest and fight the virus more quickly. Antiviral drugs may still be helpful in reducing your risk of experiencing flu complications even if started later, but they are most effective when started right away.

Can Pregnant People Take Antiviral Drugs

Yes. Oral oseltamivir is recommended for treatment of pregnant people with flu because compared to other recommended antiviral medications, it has the most studies available to suggest that it is safe and beneficial during pregnancy. Baloxavir is not recommended for pregnant people or while breastfeeding, as there are no available efficacy or safety data.

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Which Flu Treatment Works Best For My Cough

An occasional cough may clear the lung of pollutants and excess phlegm. A persistent cough should be diagnosed and treated specifically. On the pharmacy shelf, you’ll find numerous cough medicines with various combinations of decongestants, antihistamines, analgesics/antipyretics, cough suppressants, and expectorants. Ask your pharmacist which combination, if any, would be appropriate for your cough.Ã Some research suggests that honey may help suppress a cough- but do not use in anyone under the age of one as it may cause a type of food poisoning called botulism in younger children.

What Should I Do If I Forget A Dose

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If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember it. If it is no longer than 2 hours before your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. If you miss several doses, call your doctor for directions. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

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What Is Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance refers to the ability of some germs to survive the drugs we take to kill them. This can happen as a result of overuse, described above, or misuse, as when a patient with strep throat misses doses of their antibiotics or stops taking their pills once they feel better. Instead of being killed, the strep bacteria are, in the words of one scientist, educated in how to fight the drug. Then, if those germs are passed to someone else, the same antibiotic will be less effective.

Superbugs are germs that are resistant to many antibiotics. The best-known superbug is MRSA , a drug-resistant form of staph. Other superbugs cause hard-to-treat forms of pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea and UTIs. Every year, 2 million Americans fall ill with antibiotic-resistant infections.

Superbugs take more time and money to treat. Today, a simple sore throat or UTI might inconvenience you for a week, until your inexpensive generic antibiotics kick in. In the future, that week could turn into a month and multiple rounds of pricey specialized antibiotics.

Thats not all. Antibiotics are the unsung hero that support many medical breakthroughs, Dr. Knecht says. Theres a whole slew of technologies we wouldnt be able to use if antibiotics stopped working: surgery, dialysis, chemotherapy, gene therapy, bone marrow transplants. All of these treatments would be too dangerous without effective ways to head off and treat infection.

Paracetamol For Pain And Fever

Paracetamol can be used for adults and children over 1 month for pain and symptoms of fever. Make sure youve got the right strength for your childs age and weight as overdosing can be dangerous.

Read and follow the directions on the label carefully. If you are not sure check with your doctor or pharmacist.

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What Else Can I Do To Prevent Getting Colds And The Flu

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcoholic hand wipes. Cold and flu viruses are spread by touching your nose or mouth after touching an infected person, breathing in the air of an infected person’s sneeze or cough, or touching objects that have come in contact with the virus and then touching your nose.

Other prevention tips are to eat healthy, exercise, get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of liquids , and avoid close contact with people who have colds. Also, get an annual flu vaccine.

More Advice About Flu And Flu Prevention

How the flu vaccine works

Reducing your chances of picking up flu germs will lower your risk of becoming infected. You should:

  • wash your hands regularly with water and soap, particularly before touching your mouth or eating
  • regularly clean surfaces which accumulate germs such as door handles and computer keyboards
  • sneeze or cough into tissues
  • dont leave tissues lying around, but instead put them into the bin as soon as possible


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Monitor And Treat Your Symptoms

Foxman says viruses that cause cold, flu, or COVID-19 can affect you in different ways. But they tend to cause some similar symptoms, such as stuffy nose, tiredness, or muscle aches.

It doesnt really matter which virus it is — you can treat mild symptoms the same way. Here are some things you can do:

  • Drink fluids
  • Sleep more
  • Ask your doctor about over-the-counter drugs, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen

Go to the ER right away if you cant breathe well. Foxman says viruses that cause flu or COVID-19 can damage your lungs. The common cold can lead to big problems another way — the tubes that bring air down to your lungs can narrow. You can get serious asthma-like symptoms. Wheezing can be life-threatening, because if those airways close, thats a problem, she says.

If you or a loved one gets serious symptoms, Foxman says you should head to the hospital. Call first to see if there are any special rules for people who have COVID-19. Heres what to watch for:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Ongoing chest pain or pressure
  • Trouble staying awake

Check If You Have Flu

Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include:

  • a sudden high temperature of 38C or above
  • an aching body
  • diarrhoea or tummy pain
  • feeling sick and being sick

The symptoms are similar for children, but they can also get pain in their ear and appear less active.

Cold and flu symptoms are similar, but flu tends to be more severe.

Differences between cold and flu

Appears quickly within a few hours Appears gradually
Affects more than just your nose and throat Affects mainly your nose and throat
Makes you feel exhausted and too unwell to carry on as normal Makes you feel unwell, but you’re OK to carry on as normal

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How Does Xofluza Work

Xofluza belongs to a class of drugs called antivirals, which are medications used to treat infections caused by viruses. Because the flu is caused by a virus and not bacteria, its important to understand that Xofluza does not work against infections caused by bacteria. So, if you come down with a cold during or after you get the flu, Xofluza wont help to fight those symptoms.

Xofluza is indicated for acute influenza, to shorten the length of sickness, and to reduce the severity of flu symptoms. Xofluza is not indicated as a flu prevention medication, and should not be used in place of an annual flu shot.

Fda Approved Drugs For Influenza

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There are four FDA-approved influenza antiviral drugs recommended by CDC for use against recently circulating influenza viruses.

Two older drugs, amantadine and rimantadine historically have been approved for treatment and prevention of influenza A virus infection. But many strains of influenza virus, including the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, are now resistant to these drugs. CDC has not recommended the use of amantadine and rimantadine for recently circulating influenza viruses, although recommendations could change if there were future re-emergence of specific virus strains with susceptibility patterns favoring such use.

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Will An Antibiotic Cure Me Of The Flu

No, antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections and do not work on viral infections like the flu. This is another common myth about the flu and possible flu medicine used to treat it.

You might hear people say that they took an antibiotic and it cured them of the flu. Since the flu usually lasts about 5 to 7 days, it might seem that an antibiotic may have helped cure the flu. However, it is likely that the flu just resolved on its own.

Research studies of antiviral flu medicine shows that it can lessen symptoms of the flu and shorten the amount of time youre sick. If you think you may need a flu medicine to help with the flu, you should talk about it with your healthcare provider.

OTC flu medicines, as mentioned above, can help with symptoms but usually do not shorten the flus course.

Home Remedies And Lifestyle

If you develop flu symptoms while at work, school, a friend’s house, or in any public place, go home. Until you have not had a fever for more than 24 hours , stay there and away from anyone unless they are providing you medical care.

Unless you have signs of a medical emergency, you do not need to go to the emergency room when you have the flu. If you must go out, wear a face mask to protect others.

Contact your healthcare provider within the first 48 hours of developing flu symptoms. This will give you a chance to discuss your symptoms and determine if you are in a high-risk group and should start prescription treatment.

Resting is needed when you have influenza. You should also avoid smoking and secondhand smoke, as this may make your symptoms worse.

Water and clear liquids are recommended for those who have influenza. This will help prevent dehydration. You should, however, avoid alcoholic beverages when you have the flu.

For sore throat, a warm saltwater gargle or lozenges may help provide relief.

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How The Flu Vaccine Works

Your white blood cells respond to substances they consider to be foreign and produce antibodies, which are special proteins that can latch onto these substances. This can prevent a virus from being able to enter and infect or cell, or may alert other white cells to come and attack the invader.

This happens naturally when you are infected by the influenza virus, although it takes a couple of weeks and can’t stop you from getting sick with the virus the first time you are exposed.

The goal of the flu vaccine is to expose your immune system to the viral antigens before you are infected. In this way, your body will have antibodies ready to go when you are exposed to the flu in your community. As a result, you may not get sick at all or you may have a milder case of the flu if infected.

To Treat Congestion Or A Runny Nose

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Some decongestant medicine may help to treat congestion or a runny nose, according to Cleveland Clinic, though decongestant nasal sprays should only be used for a few days.

To treat a runny or stuffy nose, Cleveland Clinic recommended getting rest and drinking plenty of fluids, especially water.

Saline nasal sprays can also help to relieve symptoms, along with a Neti pot or a cool-mist humidifier.

For other at-home remedies, Cleveland Clinic said to try using essential oils, drinking hot teas, taking a facial steam or hot shower and eating spicy foods.

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How Long Do You Need To Take Antiviral Drugs

Treatment length varies depending on the antiviral drug and viral infection. You may need one dose of an IV drug or a week of oral medicine.

People who have chronic ailments like HIV may take daily antivirals for life. This drug regimen keeps the virus from becoming active. It can prevent the virus from infecting others.

The American College Of Physicians Consumer Guidelines For Antibiotics:

  • Dont insist on antibiotics for yourself or your children.
  • Ask your doctor, Is this antibiotic really necessary?
  • Take only with a doctors instructions-dont take antibiotics left over from old prescriptions, given to you by friends or family, or purchased abroad without a prescription.
  • Prevent infections by washing hands thoroughly. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly. Avoid raw eggs and undercooked meats-especially ground meats.
  • Keep immunizations up-to-date-especially for influenza and pneumonia if you are a senior citizen or have a chronic illness.
  • Finish each antibiotic prescription-even if you feel better. If you dont finish the prescription, some resistant bacteria may stay with you and multiply, requiring a different-and most likely stronger-antibiotic when the infection returns weeks later.
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    Flu Medicine For Children

    Children can take some types of flu medicine, but other types may be unsafe. Children can take prescription flu medicines based on their age, as listed above for each of the four FDA-approved antiviral medications approved.

    The OTC flu medicines that children can use also depend on the childs age and the medication. Always follow the directions on the OTC medication package and talk to a healthcare provider or pharmacist if youre unsure.

    Whats The Difference Between Antibiotics And Antivirals

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    Antibiotics help the immune system fight off bacterial infections. Bacteria typically reproduce outside of cells, making it easier for medicines to target them. An antibiotic can usually treat many different types of bacterial infections. But the drugs do not affect viruses.

    Each antiviral only works against a specific virus. Because viruses inside cells are harder to target, antiviral drugs are more challenging to develop. There are more viruses than antiviral drugs to treat them.

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    Why Is This Medication Prescribed

    Oseltamivir is used to treat some types of influenza infection in adults, children, and infants who have had symptoms of the flu for no longer than 2 days. This medication is also used to prevent some types of flu in adults and children when they have spent time with someone who has the flu or when there is a flu outbreak. Oseltamivir is in a class of medications called neuraminidase inhibitors. It works by stopping the spread of the flu virus in the body. Oseltamivir helps shorten the time that flu symptoms such as a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, cough, muscle or joint aches, tiredness, headache, fever, and chills last. Oseltamivir will not prevent bacterial infections, which may occur as a complication of the flu.

    Who Should Take Antiviral Drugs

    Its very important that flu antiviral drugs are started as soon as possible to treat patients who are hospitalized with flu, people who are very sick with flu but who do not need to be hospitalized, and people who are at higher risk of serious flu complications based on their age or health, if they develop flu symptoms. Although other people with mild illness who are not at higher risk of flu complications may also be treated early with antiviral drugs by their doctor, most people who are otherwise healthy and not at higher risk for flu complications do not need to be treated with antiviral drugs.

    Following is a list of all the health and age factors that are known to increase a persons risk of getting serious complications from flu:
    • Asthma
    • Blood disorders
    • Chronic lung disease
    • Endocrine disorders
    • Heart disease
    • Kidney disorders
    • Metabolic disorders
    • People who are obese with a body mass index of 40 or higher
    • People younger than 19 years of age on long-term aspirin- or salicylate-containing medications.
    • People with a weakened immune system due to disease or medications

    Other people at higher risk from flu:

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    More Research Is Needed On Its Effectiveness

    Studies on the effectiveness of Oscillococcinum have turned up mixed results.

    For example, one study in 455 people showed that Oscillococcinum was able to reduce the frequency of respiratory tract infections .

    However, other research found that it may not be particularly effective, especially when it comes to treating influenza.

    A review of six studies reported no significant difference between Oscillococcinum and a placebo in the prevention of influenza .

    Another review of seven studies had similar findings and showed that Oscillococcinum was ineffective at preventing influenza.

    The results suggested that Oscillococcinum was able to decrease influenza duration but only by less than seven hours, on average .

    Research on the effects of this homeopathic preparation is still limited, and most studies are considered low-quality with a high risk of bias.

    High-quality studies with a large sample size are needed to determine how Oscillococcinum may impact flu symptoms.


    One study found that Oscillococcinum was able to reduce the frequency of respiratory tract infections, but comprehensive reviews show minimal benefit in the treatment of influenza.

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