Friday, September 29, 2023

What Antiviral Drugs Are Used For The Flu

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Clean And Disinfect Surfaces

Antiviral drugs for the flu | Infectious diseases | Health & Medicine | Khan Academy

The current COVID-19 pandemic may have already gotten you into good cleaning and hygiene practices.

If someone in your home has the flu, you can reduce your risk of contracting it by keeping surfaces in your house clean and disinfected. This can kill flu germs.

Use a disinfectant cleaner to wipe down doorknobs, telephones, toys, light switches, and other high-touch surfaces several times each day. The sick person should also quarantine themselves to a certain part of the house.

If youre caring for this individual, wear a surgical mask and gloves when attending to them, and wash your hands afterward.

Because the flu can be dangerous for people over the age of 65, visit your doctor if you develop any symptoms of the flu.

Symptoms to watch for include:

  • runny or stuffed-up nose

Some of these symptoms overlap with other respiratory infections like COVID-19. Its important to self-isolate, wear a mask, and practice good hygiene while waiting for your test results.

Theres no cure for the flu. But if youre exposed to the virus and see a doctor early, you might be able to receive a prescription antiviral medication such as Tamiflu.

If taken within the first 48 hours of symptoms, an antiviral may shorten the duration of the flu and reduce the severity of symptoms. As a result, theres a lower risk of complications like pneumonia.

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Do Antiviral Drugs For Flu Have Side Effects

Side effects of antivirals may include nausea, vomiting, runny nose, stuffy nose, cough, diarrhea, and behavioral changes. Zanamivir is not recommended for individuals who have asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , or other lung disease. Based on your individual health status, your doctor will prescribe the antiviral drug that’s safest for you.

What You Should Know About Flu Antiviral Drugs

  • What are flu antiviral drugs?
  • What should I do if I think I am sick with flu?
  • Should I still get a flu vaccine?
  • What are the benefits of antiviral drugs?
  • When should antiviral drugs be taken for treatment?
  • What antiviral drugs are recommended this flu season?
  • How long should antiviral drugs be taken?
  • What are the possible side effects of antiviral drugs?
  • Can children take antiviral drugs?
  • Can pregnant people take antiviral drugs?
  • Who should take antiviral drugs?

Can flu be treated?

Yes. There are prescription medications called antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu illness. CDC recommends prompt treatment for people who have flu or suspected flu and who are at higher risk of serious flu complications, such as people with asthma, diabetes , or heart disease.

What are flu antiviral drugs?

Flu antiviral drugs are prescription medicines that fight against flu viruses in your body. Antiviral drugs are not sold over the counter. You can only get them if you have a prescription from a health care provider. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics, which fight against bacterial infections.

What should I do if I think I am sick with flu?

Should I still get a flu vaccine?

What are the benefits of antiviral drugs?

When should antiviral drugs be taken for treatment?

What antiviral drugs are recommended this flu season?

There are four FDA-approved antiviral drugs recommended by CDC to treat flu this season.

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What Are The Benefits Of Antiviral Drugs

Antiviral treatment works best when started soon after flu illness begins. When treatment is started within two days of becoming sick with flu symptoms, antiviral drugs can lessen fever and flu symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by about one day. They also may reduce the risk of complications such as ear infections in children, respiratory complications requiring antibiotics, and hospitalization in adults. For people at higher risk of serious flu complications, early treatment with an antiviral drug can mean having milder illness instead of more severe illness that might require a hospital stay. For adults hospitalized with flu illness, some studies have reported that early antiviral treatment can reduce their risk of death.

Questions And Answers About Antivirals

DH permits use of antivirals due to rise in flu cases

Although vaccination is the preferred option for preventing influenza, antivirals can be useful when the vaccine fails, for example, due to:

  • antigenic mismatch with circulating virus,

  • waning immunity in elderly,

  • the vaccine not yet available, or

  • during an outbreak of avian influenza or an emerging pandemic.

At least one EU country makes specific recommendations on when to use antivirals according to the levels of circulating influenza viruses as determined by surveillance.

To date there have been few instances of resistance to the neuraminidase inhibitors and resistant viruses that transmit on are very rare. Resistant mutants to the M2 inhibitors have been detected in a number of countries and all current circulating influenza viruses are resistant to M2 inhibitors. Therefore, the use of M2 inhibitors in treatment of influenza is not recommended. Antiviral resistance in Europe is monitored by ECDC and EuroFlu based on the reports sent by influenza reference laboratories to TESSy.

ECDC routinely collects, analyses and disseminates information on antiviral resistance from influenza viruses isolated from all EEA/EFTA countries.

The analysis of resistance against neuraminidase inhibitors and adamantanes is performed by measuring IC50 values and/or by genotyping of viruses for detection of known drug resistance mutations.

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Whats The Difference Between Antibiotics And Antivirals

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.

How To Use Antiviral Medications

Each medication is given in a different way and may not be appropriate for certain groups of people. Your healthcare provider can determine which medication is right for you and your situation.

  • Rapivab is given through an IV as a one-day treatment for those age 2 and over. It is not given as a preventative medication.
  • Relenza is an inhaled powder. It is used twice daily for five days for the treatment of children and adults age 7 years and older. It’s used once daily for as a preventative medication for those age 5 and older.
  • Tamiflu is available as a pill or liquid. It may be used as a five-day treatment for any age group, or as a seven-day preventative medication for those over 3 months of age.
  • Xofluza is a pill given as a one-day treatment for those age 12 and over. It is not given as a preventative medication.

Oral Tamiflu is the preferred treatment for those who are pregnant as its safety is supported by more studies.

If your symptoms worsen while you are on these mediations or after you complete a course, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

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Controlling The Spread Of Infection

The influenza vaccine isnât 100 percent effective, so itâs also important to take measures such as these to reduce the spread of infection:

  • Wash your hands. Thorough and frequent hand-washing is an effective way to prevent many common infections. Or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap and water arenât readily available.
  • Contain your coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. To avoid contaminating your hands, cough or sneeze into a tissue or into the inner crook of your elbow.
  • Avoid crowds. Flu spreads easily wherever people congregate in child care centers, schools, office buildings, auditoriums and public transportation. By avoiding crowds during peak flu season, you reduce your chances of infection. And, if youâre sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever subsides so that you lessen your chance of infecting others.

Prompt Empiric Antiviral Treatment

Infectious Diseases A-Z: Are antiviral medications effective against the flu?

Clinical judgment is an important factor in treatment decisions for patients presenting with influenza-like illness. Prompt empiric antiviral treatment with influenza antiviral medications is recommended while results of definitive diagnostic tests are pending, or if diagnostic testing is not possible, for patients with clinically suspected influenza illness who have:

  • Illness requiring hospitalization
  • Progressive, severe, or complicated illness, regardless of previous health status, and/or
  • Increased risk for severe disease.

Antiviral treatment, when clinically indicated, should not be delayed, pending definitive laboratory confirmation of influenza. Influenza antiviral medications are most effective when initiated within the first two days of illness, but these medications may also provide benefits for severely ill patients when initiated even after two days. Guidance on use of antivirals may change depending upon resistance data.

Consult CDCs latest recommendations on antiviral use.

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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 Beginning: Symptom Onset

The timeline between exposure, infection and the first signs of flu symptoms is typically about two days, but can range from one to four days.

When you start to feel sick, it seems sudden. And if youre like many people, the first symptoms you notice may be fever or chills, which are followed quickly by headache, muscle aches, cough and/or extreme tiredness.

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Antiviraldrugs Used To Treat Cytomegalovirus Infections

Cytomegalovirus infection typically occurs in people who are very sick . Like the varicella-zoster virus, which causes herpes zoster , most of us harbor the cytomegalovirus, but the virus will only reactivate if you’re immune system is run down.

In those who are already pretty sick, symptoms of cytomegalovirus infection affect many organ systems and include:

  • Brain and spinal cord infection

Drugs used to treat cytomegalovirus infection include valganciclovir, ganciclovir, foscarnet, and cidofovir. Like other antiviral drugs, antiviral drugs used to treat cytomegalovirus in part mess with viral enzymes like viral DNA and RNA polymerase.

Looking After Yourself When You Have Influenza


The best things you can do to look after yourself when you have the flu are:

  • Rest you will probably feel very weak and tired until your temperature returns to normal . Rest provides comfort and allows your body to use its energy to fight the infection.
  • Stay at home stay away from work, school and any places where you may have contact with others, especially while you are contagious. The period during which adults are contagious is usually around 35 days from when the first symptoms appear, and up to 7 days in younger children.
  • Drink plenty of fluids extra fluids are needed to replace those lost because of the fever . If your urine is dark, you need to drink more. Try to drink a glass of fluids, such as water, every hour while you are awake.

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Table 3 Recommended Oseltamivir And Peramivir Dose Adjustments For Treatment Or Chemoprophylaxis Of Influenza In Adult Patients With Renal Impairment Or End Stage Renal Disease On Dialysis*

Creatinine Clearance

* From package inserts for oseltamivir and peramivir see FDA Influenza Antiviral Drugs and Related Information.

Abbreviations: N/A = approved, not recommended1 Renal dosing of oseltamivir is not available in the package insert for pediatric patients. However, these tables may be useful for children who qualify for adult doses based on weight > 40 kg.2 Assuming 3 hemodialysis sessions are performed in the 5- day period. Treatment can be initiated immediately if influenza symptoms develop during the 48 hours between hemodialysis sessions however, the post-hemodialysis dose should still be administered independently of time of administration of the initial dose.3 An initial dose can be administered prior to the start of dialysis.4 Data derived from studies in continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis patients.5 Renal dosing from peramivir package insert is available for pediatric patients: Creatinine clearance 50 mL/min: 12 mg/kg Creatinine clearance 30 to 49 mL/min: 4 mg/kg Creatinine clearance 10 to 29 mL/min: 2 mg/kg.

For more information, visit the Seasonal Influenza site, email CDC-INFO, or call CDC at 800-CDC-INFO or 888-232-6348 .

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:
  • Blood disorders
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Endocrine disorders
  • 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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Viruses And Host Cells

Viruses consist of nucleic acid and a protein coat. Because viruses do not have the enzymes that are needed to manufacture cellular components, they are obligate parasites, which means they must enter a cell for replication to occur. The nucleic acid of the virus instructs the host cell to produce viral components, which leads to an infectious virus. In some cases, as in herpes infections, the viral nucleic acid may remain in the host cell without causing replication of the virus and damage to the host . In other cases, the production of virus by the host cell may cause the death of the cell. A major problem in treating some viral diseases is that latent viruses can become activated.

Many factors account for the difficulty in developing antiviral agents. The structure of each virus differs, and specific therapy is often unsuccessful because of periodic changes in the antigenic proteins of the virus . The need for a host cell to support the multiplication of the virus makes treatment difficult because the agent must be able to inhibit the virus without seriously affecting the host cells.

An antiviral agent must act at one of five basic steps in the viral replication cycle in order to inhibit the virus: attachment and penetration of the virus into the host cell, uncoating of virus , synthesis of new viral components by the host cell as directed by the virus DNA, assembly of the components into new virus, and release of the virus from the host cell.

Take 3 Actions To Fight Flu

Antiviral Drugs: Seasonal Flu

Take 3 Actions to Fight Flu


Influenza is a contagious disease that can be serious. Every year, millions of people get sick, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu. CDC urges you to take the following actions to protect yourself and others from the flu.

Get yourself and your family vaccinated!

A yearly flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Everyone 6 months or older should get an annual flu vaccine. Protect Yourself. Protect Your Family. Get Vaccinated. #FightFlu

Stop the spread

Take everyday preventative actions to help stop the spread of flu viruses! Avoid close contact with sick people, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, cover your coughs and sneezes, wash your hands often .

Ask your doctor about flu antivirals

Take antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them!

Antiviral drugs can be used to treat flu illness and can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick.

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Take Time To Get A Flu Vaccine

  • CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
  • Flu vaccines help to reduce the burden of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths on the health care system each year.
  • This season, all flu vaccines will be designed to protect against the four flu viruses that research indicates will be most common.
  • Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine, ideally by the end of October. Learn more about vaccine timing.
  • Vaccination of people at higher risk of developing serious flu complications is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.

I Heard That Sometimes Everyone Exposed To Influenza Has Been Given Antivirals Why Is That

This is in special circumstances where people in a risk group have been exposed to influenza. The most common time this happens is when there is a proven influenza outbreak in an old peoples home, a nursing home or a hospital ward. Then antivirals may be given to all the people at risk as early treatment or prophylaxis.

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The Limits Of Vaccination

We next considered the impact of vaccine efficacy on influenza control to determine the minimum overall vaccine efficacy beyond which antiviral use is more effective at reducing attack rate. Here, we assumed 30% antiviral coverage pdm09 pandemic ) and realistic age-based vaccine coverage levels . We chose realistic vaccine coverage levels to better illustrate the actual population-level impact of vaccines, rather than their impact were they to be distributed ideally. In Figure 3, we found that vaccines began to reduce seasonal epidemic attack rates by more than random, realistic antiviral treatment at vaccine efficacies between about 25% and 50%, depending on the timing of antiviral treatment. During a pandemic, vaccines began to outperform antivirals at efficacies between about 10% and 35%, depending on treatment timing.

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