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What Medicine Do I Take For The Flu

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Is The Flu Caused By Bacteria

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

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.

Do I Need An Appointment For A Flu Shot

If you’re used to walking up to your local pharmacy, hospital or doctor’s office to get a flu shot whenever it’s most convenient, you may find this year that you have to schedule an appointment, as providers struggle to treat COVID patients, maintain social distancing protocols and meet the demand for COVID testing and vaccinations.

Walgreens’ chief medical officer, Kevin Ban, recommends scheduling COVID-19 and flu vaccinations online.

“We are doing as much as possible to make it easy for people to schedule their appointments and get seamlessly vaccinated,” Ban said, adding that you can also call Walgreens’ toll-free number to make an appointment.

A flu vaccine can help prevent the worst symptoms of the disease.

Prescription Medications That Treat Flu

The best medicine for flu is prevention! You have heard this before. The most important current flu prevention tool we currently have is a flu shot. Granted, it is not always the perfect match to the flu viruses that circulate in any given year, but its the best we have, and generally will reduce the severity of flu, should you still contract it. Another very important prevention tool is hand washing. Scrub away those germs every chance you get!

However, if, despite your best attempts to prevent the flu fail, there are prescription medications that may be used to treat influenza. They are called antiviral drugs.There are three FDA-approved influenza antiviral drugs recommended by CDC this season to treat influenza. The brand names for these are Tamiflu® , Relenza® , and Rapivab® . Tamiflu® is available as a pill or liquid and Relenza® is a powder that is inhaled. Rapivab® is administered intravenously by a health care provider. There are no generic flu antiviral drugs.

The Centers for Disease Control website has a section titled What You Should Know About Flu Antiviral Drugs. Questions and answers from this page are presented below.

Can the flu be treated?

Yes. There are prescription medications called antiviral drugs that can be used to treat influenza illness.

What are antiviral drugs?

What should I do if I think I have the flu?

Should I still get a flu vaccine?

What are the benefits of antiviral drugs?

What are the possible side effects of antiviral drugs?

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When Do I Call The Doctor About Flu Antiviral Drugs

Ideally, you should talk to your doctor about the flu vaccine and antiviral drugs, including side effects, before the flu season begins.

When you do get flu symptoms, it’s important to call your doctor soon after symptoms appear. Flu drugs are most effective when taken within the first 48 hours of flu symptoms, although they may help prevent severe disease when taken later.

Show Sources

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Tips for Treating the Flu.” American Lung Association: “Influenza Fact Sheet.” Mayo Clinic: “Flu Shot: Your best shot for avoiding influenza.” CDC: “Good Health Habits for Prevention ” “Key Facts About Antiviral Drugs and Influenza and “Seasonal Influenza: What You Should Know about Flu Antiviral Drugs.” UpToDate: Antiviral Drugs for the Treatment of Influenza in Adults. FDA: “FDA approves Rapivab to treat flu infection.”

When Are Antiviral Drugs Recommended

Can a Popular Flu Medicine Be Dangerous?

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.

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How Do I Take The Drugs And How Long Must I Take Them

The standard course is five days for both medications. Tamiflu is a pill that you take twice a day, and Relenza is an inhalant, which you take two times, twice a day. If you have underlying kidney failure, your health care provider will have to adjust the dosing schedule of Tamiflu , and instead, you would take it in a single dose every other day for 10 days. Other dosage adjustments are made for young children.

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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If It’s A Bad Match Why Should I Bother With A Flu Shot

Although the vaccine appears less well matched against this year’s flu, medical experts still strongly recommend the flu vaccine for anyone 6 months or older. Numerous studies have demonstrated that even a poorly matched vaccine can greatly reduce the severity of the flu. According to the CDC, getting vaccinated for flu can reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor 40 to 60%.

“Studies have clearly shown that seasonal influenza vaccines consistently prevent hospitalizations and deaths even in years where there are large antigenic mismatches,” the authors wrote in a preprint report.

A study of pediatric influenza cases published Jan. 13 in Clinical Infectious Diseases demonstrated that even “mismatched” vaccines provide significant benefit, reducing the risk of life-threatening illness by nearly 75%.

Monitor And Treat Your Symptoms

When Should I Worry About the Flu?

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

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When You First Get Sick

Most people will only have mild-to-moderate flu symptoms, and they may only experience some of the possible symptoms of the disease.

The CDC recommend that people who experience any flu symptoms should stay home and rest. They should only leave home to make necessary trips, such as to see their doctor or buy groceries.

Staying inside and resting will help the body fight off the virus. It will also reduce the risk of it spreading to other people.

A person should talk to a doctor as soon as possible after any signs of the flu occur. Doing this is particularly important for people at risk of complications, such as older adults and people who smoke.

The also recommend talking to a doctor about antiviral medication during a local flu outbreak. Antiviral medications can prevent severe symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness.

According to the NIH, an antiviral medication is most effective within the first 48 hours of developing symptoms. Therefore, it is best to talk to a doctor as soon as possible about these treatments.

A doctor may also prescribe an antibiotic if there is a risk of other bacterial infections, such as pneumonia.

Best Home Remedies To Fight The Flu

Getting the flu is no fun, but there are ways to ease your aches.


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.

Unlike the common cold, the flu is a serious respiratory disease that can lead to potentially dangerous complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . If you do become infected, its important to take steps to prevent spreading the disease to others and keep your own symptoms from getting worse.

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Runny Nose And Sneezing

OTC DrugsAntihistamines, such as cetirizine , chlorpheniramine , diphenhydramine , fexofenadine , and loratadine

How effective are they? Very, when symptoms stem from allergies, but a 2015 review of 18 trials concluded that the drugs have little benefit when symptoms are from a cold.

What are the risks? Drowsiness, nausea, blurred vision, and difficulty urinating, and, with diphenhydramine, impaired coordination.

What they can interact with: Taking chlorpheniramine or diphenhydramine with narcotics, sleeping pills, or alcohol makes sedation more likely. Taking cetirizine, fexofenadine, or loratadine with certain antifungals or antibiotics increases the risk of side effects. Antacids with aluminum or magnesium, and grapefruit and certain other juices can make fexofenadine less effective.

Home RemediesHonestly, theres not much you can do besides stocking up on tissues. But note that a runny nose and sneezing help rid your body of germs. If you find yourself without a tissue in hand, sneeze into your elbow so that the germs dont end up across the room infecting an innocent bystander.

Fighting The Flu At Home

Can I Take This Cold Medication With That One?

The note that some of the most important ways of fighting the flu at home include:

  • getting lots of rest
  • drinking plenty of fluids, including juices and water
  • taking acetaminophen or other over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce fever
  • avoiding smoking or being around people who are smoking
  • avoiding drinking alcohol while sick

Some additional ways to reduce flu symptoms include:

  • taking a warm bath with Epsom salt or baking soda to relieve aches
  • using a humidifier to add moisture to the air
  • applying a vapor rub to the chest, for adults
  • using a saltwater gargle
  • trying supplements, such as vitamin C, probiotics, or echinacea

According to a 2014 review , honey could also help with symptoms. Researchers found three studies providing evidence that taking honey right before bed can ease symptoms, such as a cough, in children.

Another study from 2014 found that taking zinc can help with flu symptoms by preventing the virus from rapidly spreading, reducing the duration of illness. However, there is not enough evidence to support routine or high dosages of zinc to prevent the flu.

Most people do not need to see a doctor for symptoms of the flu.

However, anyone at risk of serious health complications should talk to their doctor if they develop symptoms. They may also wish to do this if there is a local flu outbreak in the area.

  • pregnancy
  • kidney, liver, or metabolic disorders
  • HIV
  • weakened immune system
  • blood disorders

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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.

Flu Symptoms And Remedies To Help Ease Them

Flu symptoms extend beyond those of a bad cold and often include fever, nausea and severe body aches, says Dr. Mehta. Its important to treat the symptoms effectively, since they can lead to other health issues, like dehydration.

If you or a loved one has the flu, the following tips can help ease the symptoms. However, before trying any of these remedies at home, be sure to talk with your doctor about how to best treat your illness.

  • Fatigue: The only way to treat the fatigue associated with the flu is to stay home from work or school and get the rest your body needs. The fatigue you feel happens because your body is working overtime to battle the influenza virus.
  • Aches, pains and fever: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help reduce your aches and lower your fever. If you do take any over-the-counter meds, pay close attention to the medication ingredients and warning labels, since many cough and flu medicines contain ibuprofen or acetaminophen also.

No matter how bad you feel, certain at-risk individuals should not take any over-the-counter medicines without talking to their doctor first, explains Dr. Mehta. Medications, even those you can buy without a prescription, can be harmful to those with liver, stomach or blood pressure issues.

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What Are The Potential Benefits Of Taking Antiviral Drugs For The Flu

Both Tamiflu and Relenza work only if taken within 48 hours of developing symptoms of the flu. Fever, headache, body aches, sore throat, cough, and eye pain are all classic symptoms of the flu. If you start taking one of these medications within that 48-hour window, the benefits include:

  • A shorter duration of illness
  • A shorter period in which you will be contagious and can spread the disease to others
  • A lowered risk of developing complications from the flu, primarily pneumonia

Is It Safe To Get Covid And Flu Shots At The Same Time

How to Treat the Flu (Influenza) | Flu Treatment

The CDC has confirmed it’s safe to get a flu shot and COVID vaccination in the same sitting.

And don’t worry about more serious side effects with a four-part flu vaccine: Whether the shot uses three components or four, the typical side effects should be the same, Chin-Hong, the UCSF doctor, said. Those include redness or swelling at the injection site, muscle ache, mild fever, headache and nausea, all of which should clear up after a few days.

Want more? We’ve debunked nine myths about the flu shot and explain how to tell if you have the flu, COVID or a common cold.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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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.

Treating The Cold Or Flu When You Have Covid

By Keri Wiginton

Its possible to catch more than one respiratory virus at the same time. That means you could get a cold or the flu along with COVID-19. But so far, these coinfections havent happened enough for scientists to study them very much. Experts think thats due to all the physical distancing and other safety measures we took to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Theres some evidence your immune system might protect you from viral coinfections. But we need more research to know if thatll happen with COVID-19.

Ellen Foxman, MD, PhD, an immunobiologist with Yale Medicine and assistant professor of laboratory medicine and immunobiology at Yale School of Medicine, says it doesnt matter if you get the rhinovirus — the main cause of the common cold — or the viruses that cause flu or COVID-19.

Within a few days, your body turns on a really rapid antiviral defense system that protects against all viruses.

That means your odds of a second virus most likely go down shortly after you get the first one.

There was a huge drop in cold and flu illnesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. In turn, that lowered the chances of coinfections. Though, Foxman says this year might be different. If schools and workplaces reopen and there is less use of masks and social distancing, we are likely to see more flu, and this may include some flu and COVID-19 coinfections.

If you do get sick, here are some expert tips on how to get well.

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