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Antiviral Flu Treatments Work Best When You Take The Drugs As Soon As You Get Sick

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The flu is a common illness that you may catch occasionally, especially in years with a bad flu season. The flu makes you feel miserable, and it may cause you to miss a few days of work. However, if you're otherwise healthy, you might get by treating your symptoms at home with over-the-counter medications.

If you're a senior citizen or have a health condition, you should see your doctor as soon as you have symptoms for treatment so you can lessen the severity of your illness. Here's a look at some flu treatments that might help you feel better.

Antiviral Medications

Antiviral medications are effective if they're taken at the beginning of your illness. That's why it's important to see your doctor within a day or two of getting sick. There are a few options in antiviral medications, and your doctor chooses the best one for your condition. You might get a prescription that requires you to take the drug daily until the medication is gone or you might get an injection or IV that you only take once.

The flu is a viral disease, so antibiotics won't do anything to treat it. However, you can sometimes develop bacterial complications when you have the flu, such as bacterial pneumonia. If that happens, antibiotics may be added to your flu treatment plan. However, initially, antivirals are the primary treatment for the flu.

Antivirals work by slowing the replication of the virus, so the course of your illness is a little shorter, your symptoms are less severe, and you have a lower risk of complications.

Medications For Symptom Management

Your doctor may recommend certain over-the-counter drugs to make you more comfortable and to treat your symptoms. They may also prescribe medications that break up congestion or help with other symptoms. You might be advised to take an OTC pain reliever to help with body aches so that you can rest better.

If you have a medical problem, talk to your doctor before treating yourself with OTC drugs to make sure you don't take something that could make your condition worse. For instance, some decongestants can raise your blood pressure and you may need to avoid them if you have hypertension.

If you have a chronic medical condition or if you work in a setting where you take care of people with the flu, you might want a flu vaccine every year. Your doctor can help you decide if a flu or pneumonia vaccine is right for you so you have added protection against the flu and its complications. However, a vaccine isn't used to treat the flu, so you need to take a vaccine if you want one, before flu season begins.