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Influenza (Seasonal Flu) (cont.)

Medications

Some antiviral medicines reduce the severity and shorten the duration of influenza (flu) symptoms by 1 to 1½ days if given within 48 hours of the first symptoms.2 These medicines are not intended to substitute for getting a flu immunization each year. Rather, antiviral medicines are important for controlling outbreaks and preventing the spread of infection, especially in people at high risk for developing flu complications.

The antiviral medicines zanamivir and oseltamivir are used to prevent and treat influenza A and B infections. They can reduce the severity and shorten the duration of flu symptoms.7 Amantadine and rimantadine have been used to help prevent and treat the flu caused by influenza A (but not influenza B) infection. But for the past few years the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised doctors not to use amantadine or rimantadine to treat or prevent the flu.6 These medicines have not worked against most types of the flu virus. It is important to talk with your doctor about the medicine that is best for you.

Click here to view a Decision Point.Flu: Should I Take Antiviral Medicine?

Medication choices

Two types of antiviral medicines can treat influenza infections:

What to think about

The effectiveness of antiviral medicines can vary from year to year. Some years a medicine may not work against the types of influenza virus causing symptoms. Your doctor can help you decide whether antiviral medicines are likely to help you.

Most people do not need antiviral medicines. They recover from influenza without developing complications.

But given how sick most people are when they have the flu, some people may choose to take medicine even if they are at low risk for complications.

You cannot prevent the flu or make yourself feel better faster by taking:

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eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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