Who Should Get The Flu Vaccine
Its recommended that everyone 6 months or older should get an influenza vaccine each year. You will protect yourself and other people around you. People who have any of the following conditions are at high risk of becoming seriously ill from influenza :
- Lung disease.
You also have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from influenza if you:
- Are younger than 2 years, or over 65 years old.
- Are pregnant and for 2 weeks after delivery
- Are under 19 years old and must take aspirin regularly.
- Live in a nursing home.
If you work in a healthcare facility, you may transmit influenza to patients and other workers, but you are not at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill. The recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is that everyone over the age of 6 months gets a flu vaccine if there are no contraindications. This includes individuals who are not at high risk.
Does Tamiflu Treat Bacterial Infections
No, Tamiflu doesnt work to treat infections caused by bacteria. Tamiflu contains the active drug oseltamivir, which belongs to a class of antiviral drugs called influenza neuraminidase inhibitors. These drugs target the influenza virus and prevent it from multiplying inside your body. This helps your immune system to fight off the infection.
Some bacterial infections can cause the same symptoms as the influenza virus does. But Tamiflu isnt effective to treat bacterial infections.
If you think you have a bacterial infection, talk with your doctor about your treatment options. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics that are effective to treat your infection.
How Do Flu Vaccines Work
Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with circulating influenza viruses.
Seasonal flu vaccines are designed to protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. All flu vaccines in the United States are quadrivalent vaccines, which means they protect against four different flu viruses: an influenza A virus, an influenza A virus, and two influenza B viruses.
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Using Antiviral Medicines To Prevent The Flu
Two antiviral medicines can help prevent the flu caused by influenza A and B viruses. These medicines may also reduce the length of the illness if they are given as soon as possible after the first symptoms. During a flu outbreak, these medicines may be given at the same time as a flu vaccine and for 2 weeks after while your body produces antibodies to protect you from the virus.footnote 5 The influenza medicines are usually given to people who are very sick with the flu or to those who are likely to have complications from the flu. But they may also be used for a person who has been sick with the flu for less than 48 hours. These medicines are taken by mouth or inhaled into the lungs .
The antiviral medicines amantadine and rimantadine have been used to prevent flu caused by influenza A. But for the past few years the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised doctors not to use these medicines to treat or prevent the flu. These medicines have not worked against most types of the flu virus. Amantadine and rimantadine do not protect against influenza B. Be sure to talk with your doctor about the medicine that is best for you.
Which Treatment Should I Use For Nasal Congestion
If you need immediate relief for swollen, congested nasal passages, you may get relief with an over-the-counter decongestant nasal spray. It is important to stop using decongestant nasal sprays after three days to avoid the development of rebound congestion.
Some doctors suggest using a saline spray instead of a medicated spray. Saline sprays loosen thick mucus in the nasal passageways but have no rebound effect. They may be used for extended periods of time without significant side effects.
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Drugs And Treatments For The Flu
Treating the flu mainly means relieving major symptoms until your body clears the infection.
Antibiotics arent effective against the flu because its caused by a virus, not bacteria. But your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat any secondary bacterial infection that may be present. Theyll likely recommend some combination of self-care and medication to treat your symptoms.
People who are at high risk for flu complications should seek immediate medical attention. High-risk groups include:
- adults ages 65 years and older
- women who are pregnant or up to 2 weeks postpartum
- people who have weakened immune systems
In most cases, however, the flu just needs to run its course. The best treatments for people with the flu are lots of rest and plenty of fluids.
You may not have much of an appetite, but its important to eat regular meals to keep up your strength.
If possible, stay home from work or school. Dont go back until your symptoms subside.
To bring down a fever, place a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead or take a cool bath.
You may also use over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen .
Other self-care options include the following:
- Have a bowl of hot soup to relieve nasal congestion.
- Gargle with warm salt water to soothe a sore throat.
- Avoid alcohol consumption.
OTC medications wont shorten the length of the flu, but they can help reduce symptoms.
Who Should Take Them
Antiviral medications are available by prescription only. They are not routinely given to every person who has a mild case of influenza but are reserved for those who have the most severe illness, are at high risk of complications, or close contacts of those at high risk. As well, they may be given to prevent influenza in a person who is at high risk of complications or their close contacts.
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Antivirals For Treating The Flu
Even though antibiotics arent effective against the flu, there are antiviral medications that your doctor can prescribe within a certain time frame.
If these drugs are started within two days of developing flu symptoms, they can help to make your symptoms less severe or shorten the duration of your illness.
Antiviral drugs that are available to treat flu include:
Theres also a new medication called baloxavir marboxil . This antiviral drug was created by a Japanese pharmaceutical company, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October 2018, and is now available to treat people 12 years or older who have had flu symptoms for no more than 48 hours.
Some antiviral drugs, including oseltamivir, zanamivir, and peramivir, work by preventing the virus from being properly released from an infected cell. This inhibition prevents newly formed virus particles from going along the respiratory tract to infect healthy cells.
The newly approved medication above, Xofluza, works by reducing the virus ability to replicate. But theyre arent usually necessary to get over the flu, and they dont kill the influenza virus.
Its not an antiviral medication like those noted above, but the seasonal flu vaccine is available every year and is the best way to prevent becoming ill with the flu.
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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What Are The Uses Of Antivirals Against Seasonal Influenza
The policy and practice on the use of antivirals varies between European countries. In some countries, using evidence-based policies, antivirals are only recommended for adults who are at increased risk of the complications of flu. They are generally not recommended for otherwise healthy adults with ordinary influenza. Like all medicines they can have side effects in some people.
For people in a risk group the most important way of preventing the serious complications of flu is still the flu vaccine and taking general precautions. However, if you are in a risk group and have contracted the flu, you should seek advice early from your doctor, nurse or pharmacist who can advise you on whether you need to take antivirals as they can shorten the illness or reduce the severity of the symptoms.
Which Flu Treatment Is Best For My Sore Throat
Drinking lots of fluids and using salt water gargles can often be helpful for easing the pain of a sore throat. Over-the-counter pain relievers and medicated lozenges and gargles can also temporarily soothe a sore throat. Get your doctor’s approval before using any medications, including over-the-counter drugs, and don’t use lozenges or gargles for more than a few days. Call your doctor if your throat is still sore after a couple of days or if it is severe.The medications could mask signs of strep throat, a bacterial infection that should be treated with antibiotics.
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What Should I Do If I Think I Am Sick With Flu
If you get sick with flu, antiviral drugs are a treatment option. Check with your doctor promptly if you are at higher risk of serious flu complications and you develop flu symptoms. Flu signs and symptoms can include feeling feverish or having a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs to treat your flu illness.
When To Seek Medical Care
These are the emergency warning signs of flu sickness.
- fast breathing or trouble breathing
- bluish lips or face
- ribs pulling in with each breath
- chest pain
- severe muscle pain
- not alert or interacting when awake
- in children less than 12 weeks old, any fever
- fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
- worsening of chronic medical conditions
These are not all of the possible emergency warning signs of flu. Contact your doctor about any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
If you have the emergency warning signs of flu sickness, you should obtain medical care right away.
- difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse
- fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
- worsening of chronic medical conditions
If you have symptoms of flu and are in a high-risk group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your doctor.
High-risk groups include:
- adults 65 years and older
- anyone with these conditions:
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How The Flu Is Treated
Jason DelCollo, DO, is board-certified in family medicine and on the faculty of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Most healthy people will only need home remedies or over-the-counter medications to treat flu symptoms, which generally last between three and seven days . Still, it’s worth speaking with your healthcare provider to see if a prescription for an antiviral medication may be advised to help prevent complicationsespecially if you are in a high-risk group.
Knowing what to do when you have the flu cannot only get you on the road to feeling better sooner, but it can help protect those around you from also becoming infected with the influenza virus.
Those at high-risk for flu complications include:
- Adults age 65 and over
- Children under age 5
- Children with neurological conditions
- Pregnant women
- Those with asthma, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, chronic lung disease, liver disorders, kidney disorders, HIV/AIDS, or blood disorders.
Tamiflu Use With Other Drugs
Tamiflu works to treat influenza by shortening the duration and lowering the severity of flu symptoms. However, flu symptoms can still be uncomfortable and interfere with your daily activities. Tamiflu can be taken in combination with other drugs that are used to reduce symptoms of the flu. Examples of over-the-counter drugs that may be used with Tamiflu are listed below.
Examples of drugs that reduce body aches, pain, and fever include:
Examples of drugs that reduce chest congestion and coughing include:
Some of the drugs listed above cant be used in children. Be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist before you or your child starts taking a new medication. This is important to do, even if the medication is sold over the counter.
Combination medications, such as Theraflu
Other OTC medications such as Theraflu, which contains combinations of these drugs, may also help to improve flu symptoms. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about whether or not you should take any OTC medications for flu symptoms.
You should take Tamiflu according to your doctor or healthcare professionals instructions.
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Dosage For Prevention Of Influenza
The typical dosage for flu prevention in adults and children ages 13 years and older is 75 mg of Tamiflu taken by mouth once daily.
Your doctor may prescribe Tamiflu if youve had close contact with a person who has the flu. Tamiflu is most effective at preventing the flu when the drug is given within 2 days of having this contact. For flu prevention, youll take Tamiflu for at least 10 days.
Your doctor may also prescribe Tamiflu if theres an influenza outbreak in your community. An outbreak is defined by an usually high number of people having the flu around the same period of time. If this happens, youll take Tamiflu for up to 6 weeks for prevention.
Is An Antiviral Drug A Commonly Used Flu Treatment
Antiviral flu drugs are taken to decrease the severity and duration of flu symptoms. In some cases they may be used to prevent flu. They includeÃ baloxavir marboxil ,Ã oseltamivir , peramivir , or zanamivir .
Ideally, the first dose should be taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Talk to your doctor, if you are at increased risk for complications from the flu. People at high risk include infants, elderly, those with chronic illnesses, pregnant women, those with weak immune systems. Native American and Alaskan Natives. Most antivirals do have side effects.
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How Should I Take Tamiflu
Take Tamiflu exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed.
Start taking Tamiflu as soon as possible after flu symptoms appear, such as fever, chills, muscle aches, sore throat, and runny or stuffy nose.
Take the capsule with a full glass of water.
Shake the oral suspension before you measure a dose. Use the dosing syringe provided, or use a medicine dose-measuring device .
Tamiflu may be taken with food if it upsets your stomach.
To treat flu symptoms: Take Tamiflu every 12 hours for 5 days.
To prevent flu symptoms: Take Tamiflu every 24 hours for 10 days or as prescribed. Follow your doctor’s instructions.
Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you do not understand these instructions.
Use this medicine for the full prescribed length of time, even if your symptoms quickly improve. Tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve, or if they get worse.
Store capsules at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
Store liquid medicine in the refrigerator but do not freeze. Throw away any unused liquid after 17 days.
The liquid may also be stored at cool room temperature for up to 10 days
Is The Flu Caused By Bacteria
No, the flu is caused by viruses, not bacteria.
Thinking that the flu is caused by bacteria is a common myth, and some people even call any symptoms of nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea the stomach flu. These symptoms are sometimes related to the flu, but they are not the main symptoms. Bacteria is a common cause of stomach symptoms.
The flu is a respiratory disease, meaning that it stays in your airways. The flu virus does not move to parts of your body other than the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs.
Some respiratory diseases, including pneumonia, strep throat, and whooping cough are caused by bacteria. Since the flu is not caused by bacteria, it is not treated with antibiotics like other infections. The primary flu medicine that might be prescribed by your healthcare provider is an antiviral a type of medication that fights viruses.
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