What This Means For You
If you have any flu-like symptoms, get tested for COVID-19 immediately. If your test comes back negative, call your doctor to check if you should go in for a flu test. Healthcare providers may be able to prescribe antiviral medication for the flu.
The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.
When Are Antiviral Drugs Recommended
Antiviral drugs are recommended for both treatment and prevention of flu. Antiviral drugs work best when taken within 48 hours of onset of flu symptoms, but they may still offer benefits when taken later. These medications may reduce the duration of flu by one to two days and prevent severe flu complications.
When Should Antiviral Drugs Be Taken For Treatment
Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within two days of getting sick. However, starting them later can still be beneficial, especially if the sick person is at higher risk of serious flu complications or is in the hospital with more severe illness. Follow instructions for taking these drugs.
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What Antiviral Drugs Are Recommended This Flu Season
There are four FDA-approved antiviral drugs recommended by CDC to treat flu this season.
- oseltamivir phosphate ,
- baloxavir marboxil .
Generic oseltamivirexternal icon and Tamiflu® are available as a pill or liquid suspension and are FDA approved for early treatment of flu in people 14 days and older. Zanamivir is a powder that is inhaled and approved for early treatment of flu in people 7 years and older. is administered using an inhaler device and is not recommended for people with breathing problems like asthma or COPD.) Oseltamivir and zanamivir are given twice a day for 5 days. Peramivir is given once intravenously by a health care provider and is approved for early treatment of flu in people 2 years and older. Baloxavir is a pill given as a single dose by mouth and is approved for early treatment of flu in people 12 years and older. is not recommended for pregnant people, breastfeeding people, outpatients with complicated or progressive illness, or hospitalized patients because there is no information about use of baloxavir in these patients.)
When Should You Get Tested For The Flu
Angela Underwood’s extensive local, state, and federal healthcare and environmental news coverage includes 911 first-responder compensation policy to the Ciba-Geigy water contamination case in Toms River, NJ. Her additional health-related coverage includes death and dying, skin care, and autism spectrum disorder.
Verywell Health / Brianna Gilmartin
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Flu Shot: Know The Facts
Influenza is a serious virus that leads to many illnesses each year. You dont have to be young or have a compromised immune system to get gravely ill from the flu. Healthy people can get sick from the flu and spread it to friends and family.
In some cases, the flu can even be deadly. Flu-related deaths are most common in people ages 65 and older, but can be seen in children and young adults.
The best and most efficient way to avoid the flu and prevent spreading it is to get a flu vaccination.
The flu vaccine is available in the following forms:
- injectable shot
- high-dose injectable shot
- intradermal shot
- nasal spray
The more people that get vaccinated against the flu, the less the flu can spread. It also helps with herd immunity, helping to protect those who cant get the vaccine for medical reasons.
Vaccination can also help lessen the severity of the illness if you do end up getting the flu.
Flu Symptoms In Adults
Flu-related fever appears in adults and can be severe. For many adults, a sudden high fever is the earliest symptom of the flu. It can also be a sign of COVID-19.
Adults rarely spike a fever unless they have a serious infection. The flu virus causes an abrupt high temperature thats greater than 100°F .
Other viral infections, like a cold, may cause low-grade fevers.
Beyond this, children and adults share many of the same symptoms. Some people may experience one or several symptoms more than another person. Each person will be different.
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Can Children Take Antiviral Drugs
Yes, though this varies by medication. Oseltamivir is recommended by CDC for treatment of flu in children beginning from birth and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends oseltamivir for treatment of flu in children 2 weeks old or older. Zanamivir is approved for early treatment of flu in people 7 years and older, though it is not recommended for use in children with underlying respiratory disease, including asthma and other chronic lung diseases. Peramivir is recommended for early treatment in people 2 years and older. Baloxavir is approved for early treatment of flu in people 12 years and older.
If your childs health care provider prescribes oseltamivir capsules for your child and your child cannot swallow capsules, the prescribed capsules may be opened, mixed with a thick sweetened liquid, and given that way. Learn more here.
What Your Urgent Care Doctor Can Do For The Flu
If your flu is detected early , your urgent care doctor may prescribe antiviral treatment such as Tamiflu. Antiviral treatment can shorten the duration of your illness and possibly reduce the severity of your flu symptoms, but it is not a cure. Antiviral treatment isnt for everyone, and antivirals arent the same as antibiotics. Your flu will resolve without an antiviral prescription.
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may also recommend a steroid injection. When your immune system is weakened, you may develop secondary infections such as pneumonia, so your doctor may also recommend a chest x-ray.
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Is There Medication For The Flu
Medications called antiviral drugs can treat the flu. You cant buy these medications over the counter at a pharmacy. Theyre available by prescription only, and you must visit a doctor or healthcare provider to receive a prescription.
Antiviral medications used to treat the flu can help ease the symptoms. They can also shorten the length of the flu by a day or two.
Taking antiviral medications may help if you get the flu, but these medications also have side effects. Talk to your doctor to understand the risks.
Research suggests antiviral medications work best if you take them within 48 hours of having symptoms. If you miss that window, dont worry. You may still see a benefit from taking the medicine later.
This is especially true if youre at high risk or are ill. Taking antiviral medications may help protect you against flu complications. These include pneumonia and other infections.
What Are The Treatments
Young, healthy people probably don’t need to be treated for influenza. It will simply run its course in a few days. Over-the-counter medications for symptoms may be helpful. The very young and old and those with other medical problems may benefit from being treated with antiviral medications. Even the young and healthy may benefit from these drugs when they are started within the first two days. People older than 6 months of age should get the annual flu vaccine to prevent the flu.
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How You Can Help Fight Superbugs
The good news is that were making progress in the battle against superbugs. Aetna is working to educate doctors about the dangers of overprescribing antibiotics for common complaints like acute bronchitis, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state Departments of Health. In 2018, the program reduced unnecessary prescriptions by 16%. In 2019, the initiative will be expanding to additional states.
But we need your help. You can fight the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs by asking the right questions and taking your medication as directed. If your doctor offers to prescribe you antibiotics, ask if theyre really necessary. Doctors may think people are coming to them for antibiotics, Dr. Knecht says. Asking doctors if antibiotics are needed lets them know that youre there for the right treatment, whatever that is. And if you do need antibiotics for a bacterial illness, dont skip doses and do take all the pills prescribed to you, even after you feel better. And dont share antibiotics with others.
Imagine a world where you dont know if antibiotics will work, Dr. Knecht urges. Many people dont recognize how important they are. We need to elevate their status and preserve this precious resource.
Treatment: What You Need To Know
- Can flu be treated?Yes. There are prescription medications called antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu illness.
- What are flu antiviral drugs? Flu antiviral drugs are prescription medicines that fight against flu in your respiratory tract. Antiviral drugs are not sold over the counter. You can only get them if you have a prescription from your doctor or health care provider. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics, which fight against bacterial infections.
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How To Get The Flu Vaccine
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
Concerned What Youre Feeling May Be Covid
Both COVID-19 and the seasonal flu are highly contagious respiratory illnesses, which means they share some similar symptoms like high-grade fever, chills, cough, headache and more.
But there are some distinct differences, including how quickly symptoms set in, and cough type and severity. Also, there are some symptoms that are far more consistent with COVID-19 like shortness of breath or new loss of taste or smell.
If you want to know more, check out our post on . If you think you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you can schedule a video visit to talk with a doctor about your symptoms and if you should .
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Know When To Get Emergency Care For Serious Flu Symptoms
Most likely, Steps 1-5 will be all you need to get over the flu. But influenza is a serious illness, so its important to watch for more serious symptoms.
Go to the emergency room if you, your child or another loved one is experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- Sudden dizziness
- Confusion or worse-than-normal mental function
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Loss of appetite or refusal to eat or drink
Children especially infants and toddlers can experience other unique symptoms that can indicate something more serious is going on. Go to the nearest emergency room if your child:
- Is less than 3 months old and has a fever of above 100.4°F
- Is between 3 months old and 3 years old, has a fever of above 100.4°F, and is showing signs of dehydration
- Has a fever with a rash
- Has skin or lips that have turned gray or blue
- Is extremely irritable
- Not waking up or interacting with you
Plan To Stay Home For A Bit Especially If You Have A Fever
You should not go to work or school if you have the flu. If youre sick, you should stay home. You need to rest, and it can stop you from spreading germs around town.
Its particularly important to stay home if you have a fever, and for at least 24 hours after your fever goes away . Why? Because youre most contagious when you have a fever and the day after it breaks.
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How Can I Help My Child
If your child gets the flu:
- Offer plenty of liquids. Fever and appetite loss are common with the flu, and can lead to dehydration.
- Encourage your child to rest in bed or on the couch with a supply of magazines, books, quiet music, and perhaps a favorite movie.
- Dress your child in layers that are easy to add and remove during bouts of chills or fever.
- Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever and aches.
- You can give over-the-counter cough or cold medicines to children over 6 years old if your doctor says it’s OK. Follow the package instructions carefully so you give the right amount. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 years old because they can cause bad reactions.
- Running a cool-mist humidifier can help relieve coughs and runny or stuffy noses. Clean it after each use or at least once a day.
- Honey can help loosen a stubborn cough in children older than 12 months of age. Give 12 teaspoons of honey at night. Do not give honey to children under 12 months old.
- For a stuffy nose:
- For babies: Put a few drops of saline into the nose, then gently suction the mucus out with a bulb syringe. Do this no more than 23 times a day so that the inside of your baby’s nose does not get swollen or sore.
- For older kids: Give 2 sprays of saline nose spray 3 times a day.
If your doctor prescribes medicine to ease symptoms, call the pharmacist before you go to pick it up. In a severe flu season, some pharmacies might have trouble keeping the medicines in stock.
- feel better
More Advice About Flu And Flu Prevention
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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Vitamin And Mineral Supplements
There are lots of studies that suggest vitamin C and zinc can ease cold symptoms and maybe shorten the illness — but there isnât a lot to show that they help treat the flu.
Mayo Clinic: âFitness â âFever â âGinseng â and âCold remedies: What Works, What Doesn’t, What Can’t Hurt.â
Medline Plus: âFever.â
Stanford University Vaden Health Center: âWhat You Should Know About Medications.â
National Center for Biotechnology Information : âHomeopathic Oscillococcinum for Preventing and Treating Influenza and Influenza-Like Syndromes.â
Lissiman, E.Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2009 issue 3.
Johns Hopkins: âSymptoms and Remedies.â
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database.
Is The Flu Contagious
If you have the flu, youre contagious meaning you can pass the flu to others.
Many people can spread the virus as early as a day before they show symptoms. In other words, you may be transmitting the virus before you even realize that youre sick.
You may still be spreading the virus 5 to 7 days after your symptoms appear. Young children are often able to pass the virus for more than 7 days after symptoms first appear.
People who have a weak immune system may experience the virus symptoms longer, too.
If you have the flu or any flu symptoms, stay home. Do your part to prevent the spread of the virus to other people. If youre diagnosed, alert anyone you came into contact with on the day before your symptoms appeared.
Influenza is a common, infectious virus spread by droplets that enter another persons body. From there, the virus takes hold and begins to develop.
Each year, the flu spreads across the United States. A 2018 CDC study found that the flu affects between 311 percent of U.S. people each year. This accounts for people who have symptoms.
Winter is the flus primary season, with a peak in February. But you can get the flu any time of the year.
Many strains of the flu exist. Doctors and researchers determine which strains of the virus will be most common each year.
Those strains are then used to produce vaccines. A flu vaccine is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent the flu.
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Who Should Take Antiviral Drugs
The doctor should immediately start antiviral drugs in a patient who is hospitalized. Moreover, the doctor should also give these to a patient with severe flu symptoms and who is at a high risk of flu complications. Below is a list of health and age factors that likely increases a patients risk of flu complications:
What About Influenza Complications
In some cases of the flu, severe illness, and complications can develop. This can result in hospitalisation and even death.
People at higher risk of severe complications associated with the flu include:
- people with chronic medical conditions.
The flu can also make some existing medical conditions worse.
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Tamiflu: What You Need To Know About This Flu Medicine
What you need to know.
& #151 — As the nation weathers what may be the worst flu season in years, many with the illness — and those around them — may find themselves getting prescriptions for a flu antiviral medicine. The most popular such drug is oseltamivir, often known by the brand name Tamiflu.
Below are answers to a few of the most common questions about Tamiflu.
What is Tamiflu and what does it do?
Tamiflu is an antiviral medication that your doctor can prescribe to treat or prevent infection from Influenza A and B. This medication works by preventing the spread of the flu virus in your body. Tamiflu comes in either pill or liquid form.
When is Tamiflu prescribed?
If your doctor suspects that you have the flu, or if you test positive for the flu, antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu can be started at that time. Tamiflu works the best within two days of illness onset, but your doctor may prescribe it beyond that period if he or she thinks it will help.
Your doctor might also prescribe you Tamiflu after exposure to the flu, even if you are not feeling sick. Typically, you will only receive Tamiflu for prevention if you are considered to be at greater risk of developing complications from the flu, like pneumonia. If you have chronic medical conditions such as asthma or heart disease, are older than 65 or are pregnant and have been exposed to the flu, you should speak to your doctor about taking Tamiflu.
What are the side effects of Tamiflu?
Can my child have Tamiflu?