Antiviral prescription drugs
If you are at risk of catching the flu, because you have had contact with someone who already has it, or if you are already experiencing the symptoms, an anti-viral prescription medication will be the best treatment for you.
Tamiflu is an easy to take and convenient oral medication for treating and preventing influenza (flu). Tamiflu can prevent you can from catching the flu if you have been exposed to someone who suffers from it. If you are already experiencing symptoms, Tamiflu can reduce their severity.
On average, Tamiflu reduces the duration of symptoms by a day and a half if the treatment is started within 48 hours of the beginning of symptoms. Tamiflu is known to cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, bronchitis, abdominal pain, headaches and dizziness in some people.
Find out about the influenza treatment Tamiflu
This prescription only influenza treatment is suitable for children and adults aged seven years and older. Relenza is inhaled through a device similar to an asthma inhaler every 12 hours for five days. Relenza helps prevent the virus from spreading in your body and may reduce the amount of time you are sick. It is, however, not for use by anyone with respiratory conditions such as asthma and lung disease.
Staying at home and getting some rest is the basic influenza treatment we should all take. To help with fever and aches and pains take, you should take
- Aspirin (not in children under the age of 16)
- Ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory drugs
- If you are still hot; sponge down with tepid water
- Await natural recovery
Nutritional supplements and herbal medicines
Malnutrition can reduce the body’s ability to resist infections. A deficiency in vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, folic acid and zinc, weakens the immune system and can cause anaemia, placing people at a greater risk of respiratory infections. Taking vitamin C and Zinc supplements, as well as eating more fruits and vegetables, will prevent or reduce the symptoms of colds or flu.
Herbal treatments are generally used to alleviate symptoms; Anise tea can help stimulate mucous secretion in the lungs and throat. Catnip tea relieves fever and digestive upsets to produce a relaxing effect, while echinacea tea is an immune stimulant that relieves some flu symptoms.
Much of the illness and death caused by influenza can be prevented by an annual influenza vaccination. A flu vaccine (made from an inactivated and sometimes a non-infective virus) is specifically recommended for those who are at risk of developing serious complications as a result of an influenza infection. These high-risk groups for conventional flu include people aged 65 years or older and people of any age with chronic diseases of the heart, lung or kidneys, diabetes and severe forms of anaemia.
Though no vaccine is 100% effective, most people who have had the flu jab won’t get flu. If you do get the flu, despite having the jab, it will probably be milder than if you haven’t been vaccinated.
Over-the-counter medications do not directly treat influenza, but they can provide relief from influenza symptoms. Sinus pressure, a runny nose, watery eyes and a cough can be treated with antihistamines, decongestants and cough suppressants.
Antihistamines: treat symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes and itchiness. You should not take an over-the-counter antihistamine for more than seven days, if your symptoms last longer than seven days, you may have developed something more serious.
Analgesics: relieve aches and pains and reduce fever; examples include acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen and naproxen.
Antitussives: commonly known as cough suppressants, they tell your brain to stop coughing. Don't take an antitussive if you're coughing up mucous.
Expectorants: these help thin mucous so it can be coughed up more easily.
Decongestant nasal sprays: these shrink the nasal passages and reduce congestion; adults should only use these medicines for a few days. Overuse can cause symptoms to get worse when you stop using the nasal spray.