The flu is an infection caused by the influenza virus. Seek immediate treatment once flu symptoms are noticed to avoid complications such as pneumonia. Most flu treatments are intended to prevent complications and manage symptoms, but there is one type of treatment that directly targets the cause.
5. Antiviral Drugs
These drugs target the influenza virus in the body to decrease the duration of the flu by 1 to 2 days. Antiviral drugs also can reduce the symptoms as well as prevent further complications. There are three antiviral drugs designed for the flu and they differ by route of delivery: oral (oseltamivir), inhalant (zanamivir), and intravenous (peramivir). They are typically prescribed for 5 days and can be taken by children and pregnant women. Side effects are rare, but include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, congestion, and headache.
4. Over-The-Counter Drugs
Ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be used separately to manage the symptoms of the flu. One of these is found in most over-the-counter flu medications. These drugs can reduce fever and relieve body aches. Follow the dosing instructions on the package to avoid negative side effects of nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. These drugs do not fight the influenza virus and will not decrease the duration of the flu, but they can help reduce the severity. They should not be taken to treat the flu for more than one week without consulting a healthcare professional.
To avoid severe dehydration during a flu, drink more fluid than usual. Drink water from large glasses with each dose of medication. Drink with meals and upon waking. Maintaining hydration enables the body to regulate body temperature while combating the flu. During a flu, body temperature is elevated and metabolism is slightly increased which increases fluid needs. Drinking more fluid will reduce fevers and loosen phlegm.
Fatigue and body aches experienced with the flu are signs that the body needs rest. Sleep provides physical and cognitive restoration. Avoid overexertion by resting while battling the flu. Many of the body’s resources will be used to combat the flu and rest is paramount to recovery. Since nightly sleep can be disturbed during the flu, it is helpful to take naps and rest throughout the day. Without enough rest, the duration and severity of the flu will be extended. Listening to the body and getting enough time in bed is needed to treat the flu.
A vaccine does not treat the flu, but it does prevent it. The best treatment is prevention. Each year, a vaccine is made for the most common strain of the influenza virus. The vaccine is available at local drug stores and medical facilities. Since the flu tends to be seasonal and peaks in the winter, the flu vaccine is distributed in the beginning of the fall. Side effects of the vaccine include flu symptoms that last for 1 to 3 days as well as redness at the injection site. Well worth the risk of side effects, the vaccine reduces the risk of flu by 50 to 60%.