6 Common Treatments for Influenza

Influenza, often called the flu, causes mild to severe illness. This illness is caused by the influenza virus. It is marked by symptoms [1] such as fatigue, body pain, sore throat, fever, stuffy or runny nose, and fever. Not everyone with the flu develops a fever. While the flu shares certain symptoms with cold, they are not the same condition [2].

Complications from the flu can be life-threatening, but this is not the norm. Most people who contract influenza recover at home within two weeks and never need medical attention. If you have a weak immune system, you should seek treatment.

Antiviral Drugs

Antiviral drugs cannot cure flu. There is currently no drug that can. What these drugs do instead is to reduce the symptoms of the infection. If you have a healthy immune system, you will rarely need to use drugs. Most people simply stay at home and wait it out.

People who use antivirals are often old, infants, or immunocompromised. If you fall into any of these groups or are at risk of serious complications, it is best to alleviate your symptoms with antiviral drugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [3], antiviral medications are most effective when used within the first two days of your symptoms. They may still be helpful even if you start using them later. Antivirals to consider include peramivir, baloxavir marboxil, and zanamivir.

Antivirals are different from antibiotics. Antibiotics fight bacteria. Antivirals fight viruses. A virus causes the flu, not a bacterium, so antibiotics are ineffective against it. It is important to remember this distinction because there is a common misconception that antibiotics help in treating the flu.