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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Flu: Treatment & Monitoring
      Category : Health Centers > Infections (Infectious Diseases)


Alternate Names : Influenza

Flu | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the infection?

Flu is generally treated by addressing its symptoms. Bed rest and drinking plenty of fluids help prevent some complications. Antibiotics do not work against the viruses and can reduce the body's ability to fight viruses. Medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin can help reduce fever and muscle aches. However, several recent studies showed that people who used fever-fighting medications such as aspirin and acetaminophen had flu symptoms several days longer than those who did not use these medications.

There are currently 4 antiviral medications approved in the US and many other countries to prevent or treat flu. These include:

  • amantadine and rimantadine, which are effective only against the influenza A strain of the virus. These medications are used to prevent influenza A and can also be used for treatment if started during the first 2 days of the flu. Both medications reduce the severity of the symptoms and shorten the symptoms by about 1 day. They are taken orally as tablets or syrups.
  • oseltamivir, which is approved for both prevention and treatment of the influenza A and B viruses. Oseltamivir is a capsule taken by mouth which shortens the length of the illness by 1 to 1-1/2 days.
  • zanamivir, which is approved -- for treatment only -- of both influenza A and B viruses. Zanamivir is inhaled through the mouth and reduces the length of illness by 1 to 1-1/2 days.
  • A decongestant called phenylpropanolamine (PPA), found in many over-the-counter cold remedies, has recently been linked to strokes in young women. The Food and Drug Administation (FDA) has requested that manufacturers stop producing medications containing PPA. In view of the FDA's public health advisory, anyone who has products at home containing phenylpropanolamine should discard them.

    What are the side effects of the treatments?

    Side effects of fever-fighting medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen include stomach upset and allergic reactions. Amantadine can cause anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Zanamivir can cause airway spasm and reduced airflow in people with chronic respiratory disease. Oseltamivir, amantadine, and rimantadine may cause nausea and vomiting.

    What happens after treatment for the infection?

    Flu symptoms go away in 7 to 10 days for most people. Some people can develop complications, however. The flu can cause pneumonia, even in healthy people.

    How is the infection monitored?

    A bout of flu usually clears up within 7 to 10 days. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.

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    Flu: Prevention & Expectations


    Author: James Broomfield, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/13/01

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