Irving Primary Care

How do You Treat Flu with Antiviral Drugs?

While most people will recover from the flu by themselves over time, some people are at risk of flu-related complications. These people may need antiviral drugs to prevent such complications, or to reduce the duration and severity of the flu.

Here’s how you treat flu with antiviral drugs.

Who is at Risk of Flu Complications?

The following people could develop flu complications:

  • Children under 5 years, particularly under 2 years
  • Adults above 65 years
  • Nursing home residents
  • Pregnant people
  • People in 2 weeks postpartum
  • People with chronic illnesses like heart disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease and liver disease
  • People with poor immune systems

What Are Antiviral Drugs?

Antiviral drugs reduce the efficacy of reproduction of the flu virus. They decrease the duration and severity of flu symptoms. You can both prevent and treat flu with antiviral drugs. It’s best to take these within 48 hours of exhibiting flu symptoms, but they can still be beneficial when taken at a later date.

You may be prescribed an antiviral if you have been in contact with someone who has the flu, and you want to avoid it. That said, this is not recommended as a routine procedure, as it can lead to superbugs – virus strains that are resistant to the drugs. Antiviral treatments are mostly only recommended for at-risk people.

What Antiviral Drugs can You Use?

Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil), Relenza (zanamivir) and Tamiflu (oseltamivir) are all recommended by the CDC to prevent and treat flu. Xofluza is approved for use for children who are 12 and older. It is taken orally.

Relenza is inhaled using the mouth, and can be used to treat the flu in children who are 7 and older, or to prevent it in children who are 5 and older. Tamiflu is ingested, and approved for use to treat children who are 2 weeks and over, and to prevent it in children 1 year and older. There is also Peramivir, which is taken in a single intravenous dose. It is only approved for people over 2.

All these antivirals have highest efficacy when used within 48 hours of the exhibition of flu symptoms.

Are There any Side Effects?

Yes. Side effects could include vomiting, nausea, a stuffy or runny nose, diarrhea, cough, and changes in behavior. Do not take Relenza if you have lung diseases like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or asthma. Consult with your doctor to find the right antiviral drug for you.

When Should You Call Your Doctor if You Want to Treat Flu with Antiviral Drugs?

It is best to talk to your doctor about this before the flu season even begins. If that time has passed, call your doctor as soon as you start exhibiting flu symptoms. The faster you are prescribed an antiviral drug, the likelier it is to be effective.

Remember to always consult with your doctor before taking any drugs!

To make an appointment with a physician at Health One Family Medicine, call (469)262-5762 or visit