Treatments for Flu


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Treatment list for Flu: The list of treatments mentioned in various sources for Flu includes the following list. Always seek professional medical advice about any treatment or change in treatment plans.

Treatment of Flu: medical news summaries: The following medical news items are relevant to treatment of Flu:

Treatments of Flu discussion: In 1999, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two new drugs to fight the flu: zanamivir (Relenza®) and oseltamivir (Tamiflu®), the first of a new class of antiviral drugs called neuraminidase inhibitors. 1

Zanamivir is approved only for treating uncomplicated influenza virus infection in people 7 years of age and older who have not had symptoms for more than two days.

Oseltamivir is approved for treating uncomplicated influenza virus infection in people 18 years of age or older who have not had symptoms for more than two days. A liquid suspension of oseltamivir is approved for treating acute illness in children who are 1 year of age and older who have been symptomatic for no more than two days. Oseltamivir also is approved for preventing influenza A and B in people 13 years and older.

Currently, oseltamivir is the only neuraminidase inhibitor approved to prevent the flu.1

Many people treat their flu infections by simply

  • Resting in bed
  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Taking over-the-counter medicine such as aspirin or acetaminophen (Tylenol®, for example)
You should not give aspirin to children and adolescents who have the flu.

You should not take antibiotics to treat the flu because they do not work on viruses. Antibiotics only work against some infections caused by bacteria.

Medicine for Treatment

If you do get the flu and want to take medicine to treat it, your doctor may prescribe one of four available antiviral medicines:
  • Tamiflu® (oseltamivir) helps adults 18 years and older and Relenza® (zanamivir) helps adults and children 7 years and older who have an uncomplicated flu infection and who have had symptoms for no more than two days. FDA recently approved Tamiflu® for use in children 1 year of age and older who have had symptoms for no more than two days. Both treat influenza type A and type B infections.
  • Flumadine® (rimantadine) helps adults who have influenza type A virus infections. It has no effect on influenza type B virus infections.
  • Symmetrel® (amantadine) can be taken by adults and children who are 1 year of age and older to prevent and treat type A or type B influenza virus infections. Amantadine, however, is more likely to cause side effects such as lightheadedness and inability to sleep more often than is rimantadine.
To work well, you must take these medicines within 48 hours after the flu begins. They reduce the length or time fever and other symptoms last and allow you to return to your daily routine quicker.2

The flu shot is the primary method of preventing and controlling the flu. However, four drugs have been approved to treat people who get the flu: amantadine (Symmetrel), rimantadine (Flumadine), zanamivir (Relenza), and oseltamivir (Tamiflu). When taken within 48 hours after the onset of illness, these drugs reduce the duration of fever and other symptoms. These drugs are available only by prescription.3

If you get the flu, rest in bed, drink plenty of fluids, and take medication such as aspirin or acetaminophen to relieve fever and discomfort.4

Antibiotics are not effective against flu viruses. However, four drugs have been approved to treat people who get the flu:

  • amantadine (Symmetrel)
  • rimantadine (Flumadine)
  • zanamivir (Relenza)
  • oseltamivir (Tamiflu)

    When taken within 48 hours after the onset of illness, these drugs reduce the duration of fever and other symptoms. These drugs are only available by prescription4

    Footnotes:
    1. excerpt from New Flu Drugs Neuraminidase Inhibitors, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID
    2. excerpt from The Flu, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID
    3. excerpt from Shots for Safety - Age Page - Health Information: NIA
    4. excerpt from What to Do About the Flu - Age Page - Health Information: NIA

    Last revision: May 30, 2003

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