Although it is rarely life-threatening in healthy adults and children, the flu is a more serious illness than you might realize. Characterized by the sudden onset of a high fever, painful aches and chills, fatigue, nausea, and respiratory distress, an untreated case of the flu can linger for weeks. Fortunately, as one of the world’s most commonly-contracted viral infections, the flu responds to several different antiviral treatments and an ever-changing vaccine.
The Flu Vaccine
Statistically speaking, the flu vaccine is the most effective means of fighting the flu. Once recommended only for medical professionals and other high-risk populations, the flu vaccine is now fair game for the general public as well. This has led to shortages during the fall months, when doctors commonly recommend inoculation, but most pharmacies now offer the vaccine for a low one-time fee.
If you are at all worried about getting the flu, take the time to vaccinate yourself. Then again, if you can’t take the time out of your over-scheduled life to wait in line at your local pharmacy, don’t fret. There are several other highly effective anti-flu medications on the market today.
Delivered via inhaler, Relenza is most effective in older children. It fights the two main strains of the flu, Influenza A and B. It is highly effective when used within the first two days after the onset of symptoms, which requires parents to be able to recognize quickly the key differences between the flu and the common cold.
The most commonly-prescribed flu medication for adults, Tamiflu can dramatically reduce flu symptoms’ duration and severity. It comes in capsule or liquid form, making dosing a breeze, and it is effective against both types of the flu in anyone over one year of age. Tamiflu has also been shown to prevent new cases of the flu in a pinch, although doctors still recommend annual vaccination.
Flumadine is useful for preventing Influenza A, especially in small children. It is a viable treatment option as well, although it has not been prescribed as often as Tamiflu and Relenza in recent years.
Approved both to treat and prevent Influenza A, Symmetrel works for children and adults over one year of age. Like Flumadine, it is not generally a first-line defense, but it remains a crucial backup option.
General Flu Treatment Considerations
Since flu medications work best when they are taken immediately after the onset of symptoms, consider asking your doctor for a prescription before flu season begins in earnest. You don’t have to fill it until you get sick, but you will be able to skip waiting for a doctor’s appointment and go straight to the pharmacy once you do. Also, remember that flu medications work best in conjunction with common-sense prevention and home-treatment remedies. Wash your hands, get lots of rest throughout flu season, and drink plenty of fluids once you do get the flu.
Society owes a major debt of gratitude to the flu medications that have made influenza a manageable modern disease, not the cause for panic that it once was. In concert with simple prevention and treatment measures, any of the flu medications mentioned in this article can be used to dramatically lessen the flu’s unpleasant symptoms.