Most cases of flu, including H1N1 flu, require only symptom relief. If you have a chronic respiratory disease, your doctor may prescribe additional medications to help relieve your symptoms.

The antiviral drugs oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) are sometimes prescribed within the first day or two of symptoms to reduce the severity of your symptoms, and possibly the risk of complications. But, flu viruses can develop resistance to these drugs.

To make development of resistance less likely and maintain supplies of these drugs for those who need them most, antivirals are reserved for people at high risk of complications.

High-risk groups are those who:

  • Are in a hospital, nursing home or other long-term care facility
  • Are younger than 5 years of age, particularly children younger than 2 years
  • Are 65 years and older
  • Are pregnant or within two weeks of delivery, including women who have had pregnancy loss
  • Are younger than 19 years of age and are receiving long-term aspirin therapy, because of an increased risk of developing Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease that can occur when using aspirin during a viral illness
  • Are morbidly obese, defined as having a body mass index above 40
  • Have certain chronic medical conditions, including asthma, emphysema, heart disease, diabetes, neuromuscular disease, or kidney, liver or blood disease
  • Are immunosuppressed due to certain medications or HIV
  • Are American Indians or Native Alaskans

Lifestyle and home remedies

If you develop any type of 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.
  • Consider pain relievers. Use an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), cautiously. Also, use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers.

    Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 3, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. This is because aspirin has been linked to Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in such children.

    Remember, pain relievers may make you more comfortable, but they won't make your symptoms go away faster and may have side effects. Ibuprofen may cause stomach pain, bleeding and ulcers. If taken for a long period or in higher than recommended doses, acetaminophen can be toxic to your liver.

Swine flu (H1N1 flu) care at Mayo Clinic

Aug. 13, 2015
  1. Key facts about human infections with variant viruses (swine origin influenza viruses in humans). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed May 31, 2015.
  2. Thorner AR. Epidemiology of pandemic H1N1 influenza ('swine influenza'). Accessed May 27, 2015.
  3. What you should know for the 2014-2015 influenza season. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed May 31, 2015.
  4. Bennett JE, et al. Influenza (including avian and swine influenza). In: Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. Accessed May 27, 2015.
  5. The flu: What to do if you get sick. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed May 31, 2015.
  6. Thorner AR. Treatment and prevention of pandemic H1N1 influenza ('swine influenza'). Accessed May 27, 2015.
  7. Jefferson T, et al. Neuraminidase inhibitors for preventing and treating influenza in healthy adults and children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Accessed May 27, 2015.
  8. A guide to safe use of pain medicine. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed May 31, 2015.
  9. Live attenuated influenza vaccine [LAIV] (The nasal spray vaccine). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed May 27, 2015.
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Prevention and control of influenza with vaccines: Recommendations of the advisory committee on immunization practices, United States, 2015-16 influenza season. MMWR. 2015;64:818. Accessed Aug. 10, 2015.