Influenza is a contagious viral infection that normally runs its course for 7 to 10 days. Prescription flu antivirals will help you recover noticeably faster.
Influenza, also known as Flu, is a viral infection that attacks the respiratory system. It is highly contagious and spreads easily from person to person through germs from coughs and sneezes. Flu is easily treatable and often gets better within a week.
Flu viruses change constantly and new strains appear regularly. If you have had flu before, your body may be able to fight viruses of a similar strain, but you will be susceptible to new strains of flu. The virus spreads from person to person through droplets from the coughs and sneezes of an infected person, and can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours. You are recommended to get vaccinated against flu once every year, at the beginning of the flu season (December to March). Certain people who are more susceptible to flu are eligible for a free vaccination on the NHS.
Flu is not usually dangerous, and tends to go away within a week or two if you are young and healthy. However, certain groups of people are more at risk of developing complications of flu, including pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections, heart problems and flare-ups. For this reason, people at higher risk are eligible for a free, annual vaccination against flu.
Antivirals such as Tamiflu are medicines which can be used to treat or prevent flu. They work by stopping the spread of the flu virus in the body, helping to alleviate symptoms such as sinus congestion, runny nose, sore throat, cough, muscle and joint aches, headache, fever and chills, and can speed up recovery time by 1 to 1 days.
Those who are at most risk of flu, and of developing complications of flu, are eligible for a free annual flu vaccination each year. These include:
You will also be eligible for a free flu vaccination if you suffer from any of the following:
Flu primarily affects the respiratory system, with symptoms including:
Children may also experience pain in their ear and may appear less active.
Although flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses, they are caused by different viruses. It can be hard to tell the difference, as symptoms are often similar, but flu tends to have more severe symptoms and carries a greater risk of more serious health complications.
Symptoms of flu tend to be more severe than those of a common cold, and come on abruptly rather than gradually. This includes a high fever, which is rarely experienced with a cold. A person with a cold is unlikely to feel as achy and weak as someone suffering from flu, but a runny nose is more typical of a common cold.
Flu can often be treated at home by getting plenty of rest, keeping warm, drinking plenty of water and taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature. A pharmacist will be able to advise you on over-the-counter flu remedies, although you should be careful not to use them in combination with paracetamol or ibuprofen as you may exceed the recommended dose. Antiviral medications such as Tamiflu are also available on prescription, and can be used to treat flu, speeding up recovery time by 1 to 2 days, and prevent it in the case of a local outbreak.
There are many different flu remedies which can be purchased over the counter from any pharmacy. For relief of nasal or sinus congestion, decongestants in the form of oral or nasal sprays help to reduce swelling and irritation in the nasal passage. Similarly, antihistamines can help with nasal irritation, runny nose and sneezing. There are numerous cough medicines available for different types of cough and a pharmacist will be able to tell you which is the best fit for your symptoms. Paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin will help with muscle and headaches, and will also help to bring down your temperature.
Antivirus are recognised by the WHO and the CDC as effective in the treatment and prevention of influenza. They are usually prescribed if the patient is at a higher risk of complications from flu. They are most effective when taken within the first 48 hours of noticing symptoms and can speed up recovery time by 1 or 2 days.
It is recommended that everyone be vaccinated against flu annually, at the start of the flu season (December to March). Antivirals can be taken in addition to treat symptoms of flu, or in a preventative capacity if you have recently come into contact with someone who has the virus, and will not alter the effectiveness of the flu vaccine.
Tamiflu is a popular type of antivar that contains oseltamivir. It works by stopping the spread of the flu virus in the body, alleviating symptoms and speeding up recovery time by 1 to 2 days. It works best if taken within 48 hours of noticing flu-like symptoms and usually begins to alleviate symptoms within 2 days. It can also be taken in a preventative capacity.
Tamiflu is the most commonly used antiviral in the treatment and prevention of influenza. Other infections may be mistakenly referred to as flu, but are actually just a cold or sinus infection.
Aciclovir is an antiviral that is commonly used to treat herpes, shingles and chickenpox. It is not used to treat or prevent flu.
Flu viruses evolve quickly, with new strains emerging every year. Last year’s flu vaccine will not be able to protect you from the latest viruses. New flu viruses are developed each year to keep up with the latest strains of flu, helping your immune system to produce the antibodies needed to fight them.
Viruses use the host’s cells to replicate, so are difficult to target and destroy. Antivirals do not kill viruses, but stop them from spreading through the body. This speeds up recovery time by making it easier for the immune system to target the virus.
Antivirals are not antibiotics. They are used to treat viral infections, while antibiotics target bacterial infections.
Antivirals are considered to be a safe and effective treatment flu and other viral infections. If you are pregnant, speak to your doctor for advice on the safety of antivirals before taking them.
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