Headache, runny or congested nose, body pain and weakness, and fever – these are just some of the most common complaints a patient with flu would voice out. Once you feel at least two of these signs and symptoms, the next thing you would want is to visit your GP and find the best flu medicine to help you alleviate your discomfort. Here is some necessary information about the flu to fully understand what you are going through during an outbreak. Let us also discover if there is a flu medicine that treats this health condition.
Flu is from influenza viruses. This disease is primarily a contagious respiratory illness that infects the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.
Symptoms of the Flu
A flu attack may range from mild to severe episodes; the latter can actually lead to death if left untreated. It is different from the common colds as it can happen abruptly. Here are some of the common flu symptoms.
- Sore throat
- Runny or congested nose
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Fatigue or weakness (tiredness)
- Some children also experience dizziness and vomiting, as well as diarrhea.
How does the flu virus spread?
The mode of transmission of the flu virus can be through direct or indirect contact, as well as a droplet or airborne transfer. Simply put, you can catch flu when a person who is infected by it sneezes or coughs near you, sending virus-filled droplets into the air that you breathe in (droplet or airborne transmission). You can also get it if you touch somewhere that the virus landed and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes (Indirect contact). Flu is more common in winter because people spend more time in close contact with each other, so the virus spreads more easily (direct contact).
Can the flu be treated?
Yes. But most of us would rather rely on home remedies than get pharmaceutical options. Instead of getting flu medicine, here are some home remedies that most people use to alleviate their flu symptoms.
As a home flu medicine, drinking lots of water replenishes the body fluids that you lose when you have a fever. It helps lower your body temperature, avoid dehydration, and decongests your stuffy nose.
Patients experiencing sore and dry throat turn to this home remedy. Gargling warm salt water reduces the swelling and redness of the throat and eases the pain.
Drinking tea made of different herbal medicines can also be used as flu medicine, though there is still a lack of evidence to support its efficiency. Drinking tea made from Elderberry extract, peppermint, eucalyptus, slippery elm, or licorice can alleviate symptoms like nasal congestion, colds, and sore throat.
Flu medicine: Pharmacologic use
If these home remedies do not work, or you feel that their therapeutic effects fall short, doctors can prescribe several types of flu medicine that you can use to fight the virus.
Antiviral drugs may be used both to help prevent and to help treat flu caused by influenza A or B. However, although it makes good sense that you fight a virus with antiviral medications, this flu medicine is actually considered one of the last resorts. Why you may ask. The main reason is that viral infections are self-limiting. This means that they only stay and affect the body for a specific amount of time, and then they go away on their own. That is why most doctors would only treat patients symptomatically which is going to be discussed further later.
On the other hand, antiviral medications are more commonly prescribed to people who cannot have a flu vaccination or are considered to be part of the high-risk population that can contract flu. These people are the elderly, very young children, patients with severe heart and lung conditions, HIV patients, and patients with diabetes. The antiviral drugs commonly used as flu medicine are Tamiflu (oseltamivir), Relenza (zanamivir), Rapivab (peramivir), and the most recently FDA-approved single-dose pill Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil).
Symptomatic flu medicine
We used to think that antibiotics can cure any disease, whether it be caused by a virus, bacteria, parasite, or fungus. However, with viral infections, taking antibiotics is not an option. Why? Because, as mentioned earlier, unlike bacterial or fungal infections that linger in the body, viral infections go away after a specific timeframe. So, taking antibiotics will be deemed useless. That is also the reason why doctors prescribe symptomatic flu medicine to their patients to manage the specific complaints that they may be having during their viral infection. Here are some of the symptomatic flu medicine that may be given to flu patients.
Analgesics are used to relieve pain and fever. Common types of analgesics safely used by doctors are acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Countries that commonly use paracetamol can also use this. These three types of flu medicine can address body pains, fevers, chills, and body weakness that can be caused by the flu virus.
If your flu causes nasal congestion, colds, bouts of sneezing, runny nose, and persistent coughing, anti-allergy medications can also be given as a flu medicine. There are antihistamines that can make you sleepy and there are non-drowsy preparations, so ask your doctor which to use for your condition. Examples can be cetirizine, loratadine, and diphenhydramine.
Nasal congestion can really be a hassle when fighting the flu virus. Doctors can prescribe pseudoephedrine, an effective decongestant. However, this medication can cause several side effects, so patients would rather endure the stuffy nose than to experience nausea, insomnia, and palpitations.
Like a flu medicine, steroids can aid in alleviating runny nose. Fluticasone and mometasone are common steroids used for flu and other allergic illnesses.
To relieve persistent or on-and-off coughing brought about by flu which may also cause sore throat, antitussives like dextromethorphan can be given as a flu medicine. Throat lozenges that soothe the throat irritations and itchiness can also help suppress the coughing.
A big reminder for taking flu medicine
There are many pharmaceutical companies that manufacture or come up with drug combinations that help alleviate flu symptoms. Just make sure that you know the contents of the medication before taking them so as to avoid an overdose. For instance, if your medication contains an analgesic (acetaminophen) and another flu medicine as a combination drug, be sure not to take an additional dose of acetaminophen, as it could lead to other health complications like liver damage. The best way to know which medicines to take is to consult your doctor and inquire about the different flu medicine that can relieve your symptoms.