Alternate Names : Influenza
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.