Diagnosis

Your doctor will conduct a physical exam, look for signs and symptoms of influenza, and possibly order a test that detects influenza viruses.

During times when influenza is widespread, you may not need to be tested for influenza. Your doctor may diagnose you based on your signs and symptoms.

In some cases, your doctor may suggest that you be tested for influenza. He or she may use various tests to diagnose influenza. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is becoming more common in many hospitals and labs. This test may be done while you're in your doctor's office or in the hospital. PCR testing is more sensitive than other tests and may be able to identify the influenza strain.

Treatment

Usually, you'll need nothing more than bed rest and plenty of fluids to treat the flu. But if you have severe infection or are at higher risk for complications, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu), zanamivir (Relenza), peramivir (Rapivab) or baloxavir (Xofluza). 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 certain chronic respiratory problems, such as asthma and lung disease.

Antiviral medication side effects may include nausea and vomiting. These side effects may be lessened if the drug is taken with food.

Most circulating strains of influenza have become resistant to amantadine and rimantadine (Flumadine), which are older antiviral drugs that are no longer recommended.

Clinical trials

Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this disease.

Lifestyle and home remedies

If you do come down with the flu, these measures may help ease your symptoms:

  • Drink plenty of liquids. Choose water, juice and warm soups to prevent dehydration.
  • Rest. Get more sleep to help your immune system fight infection. You may need to change your activity level, depending on your symptoms.
  • Consider pain relievers. Use an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), to combat the achiness associated with influenza. Children and teens recovering from flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin because of the risk of Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal condition.

To help control the spread of influenza in your community, stay home and keep sick children home until fever has been gone for 24 hours.

Oct. 04, 2019
References
  1. Jameson JL, et al., eds. Influenza. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 20th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2018. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed July 13, 2018.
  2. Zachary KC. Treatment of seasonal influenza in adults. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed July 13, 2018.
  3. Goldman L, et al., eds. Influenza. In: Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 13, 2018.
  4. Bope ET, et al. The infectious diseases. In: Conn's Current Therapy 2018. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2018. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 13, 2018.
  5. Live attenuated influenza vaccine [LAIV] (The nasal spray flu vaccine). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/nasalspray.htm. Accessed July 13, 2018.
  6. The flu: What to do if you get sick. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/takingcare.htm. Accessed July 13, 2018.
  7. AskMayoExpert. Influenza vaccination. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.
  8. Grohskopf LA, et al. Prevention and control of seasonal influenza with vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices — United States, 2018-2019 influenza season. MMWR Recommendations and Reports. 2018;67:3.
  9. AskMayoExpert. Influenza. Mayo Clinic; 2017.
  10. Grohskopf LA, et al. Prevention and control of seasonal influenza with vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices — United States, 2019-2020 influenza season. MMWR Recommendations and Reports. 2019; doi: 10.15585/mmwr.rr6803a1.
  11. Tosh PK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. Sept. 4, 2019.

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