Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Usually, you'll need nothing more than bed rest and plenty of fluids to treat the flu. But in some cases, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza). If taken soon after you notice symptoms, these drugs may shorten your illness by a day or so and help prevent serious complications.

Oseltamivir is an oral medication. Zanamivir is inhaled through a device similar to an asthma inhaler and shouldn't be used by anyone with respiratory problems, such as asthma and lung disease. Antiviral side effects may include nausea and vomiting. Oseltamivir has also been associated with delirium and self-harm behaviors in teenagers. Some researchers recommend further study on both of these drugs, however, due to uncertainty about their effects beyond the initial reduction in symptoms.

Some strains of influenza have become resistant to oseltamivir and to amantadine, which is an older antiviral drug.

Feb. 21, 2013

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