The main treatment for influenza is to rest adequately, drink plenty of fluids, and avoid exertion. Normal activities may resume 24 to 48 hours after the body temperature returns to normal, but most people take several days to recover. When taken within 2 days of illness onset, prescription antiviral drugs can Reduce the duration of uncomplicated influenza.
For most people influenza is an upper respiratory tract infection that lasts several days and requires symptomatic treatment only. Within days, the person’s body will eliminate the virus. Antibiotics, such as penicillin, which are designed to kill bacteria, cannot attack the virus. Therefore antibiotics have no role in treating influenza in otherwise healthy people although they are used to treat complications. For several years, four antiviral drugs that act by preventing influenza virus replication have been available. They differ in terms of side effects, and routes of administration, target age groups, dosages, and costs. When taken before infection or during early stage of the disease (within two days of illness onset), antiviral may help prevent infection, and if infection has already taken hold, their early administration may reduce the duration of symptoms. Antibiotics are not effective against flu viruses. However, four drugs have been approved to treat people who get the flu:
When taken within 48 hours after the onset of illness, these drugs reduce the duration of fever and other symptoms. These drugs are only available by prescription
In severe influenza, admission to hospital, intensive care, antibiotic therapy to prevent secondary infection and breathing support may be required. Children who are suspected of having influenza, and who have high fevers, should never be given aspirin to treat the fever. This can cause the disease called Reye’s syndrome. Instead, acetaminophen (Tylenol) should be used.
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