Things To Know Before Taking An Antiviral For The Flu

Health & Medical Blog

Influenza, also known as the flu, can really knock you out. Thankfully, flu treatment has come a long way. While doctors used to only be able to offer supportive care, such as fluids and pain relievers, they can now prescribe antiviral medications that help your body fight the virus off sooner. If you're thinking about taking an antiviral for the flu, here are some important things to know first.

They're available by prescription, only.

You can't just walk into your local pharmacy and buy an antiviral medication for the flu. If you see so-called "flu treatments" on the shelf at a pharmacy, they are likely medications intended to treat symptoms of the flu, such as cough and congestion. These medications can be helpful, and they may be all you need for milder flu cases. But if you want antiviral medications specifically, you will need a prescription from the doctor. Some doctors will test you for the flu before prescribing these meds. Others will diagnose you and prescribe meds based on your symptoms.

They work best when taken early.

You will get the most benefit from an antiviral flu treatment if you take it soon after developing flu symptoms. Sometimes, patients put off treatment and figure they'll wait until it "gets bad" to seek care. But this could be a mistake. If you are fairly sure you have the flu and you want antiviral medications, go see your doctor ASAP. When taken early, antiviral drugs can keep your flu from getting too bad in the first place. They can also reduce the risk of hospitalization and long-term side effects.

They can be taken later.

If you miss taking these drugs in the first couple of days of sickness, that does not mean you can't still take them. Taking an antiviral can still help — just not as much as when you take it early. So, don't avoid seeking care just because you put it off initially.

They come in several forms.

Antiviral medications for the flu come in liquid, pill, and inhaled forms. The inhaled form tends to be really effective, but it's not the best choice for people with asthma and underlying respiratory problems. The pill form is popular with adults, but most kids prefer the liquid option.

If you think you may have the flu, see your doctor about antiviral flu treatment. This really is the best way to keep your flu from getting too serious. Visit a flu care center to learn more.


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