If you're very sick or you have other medical conditions, you might need treatment with prescription medications called antiviral drugs.
These medicines -- oseltamivir (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab), or zanamivir (Relenza) -- work best when you take them within 48 hours after your symptoms start. They can shorten the length of your illness by a day if you take them within this early window. They might help even after 2 days, especially if you’re very sick.
Your doctor may want you to take antiviral drugs if you have a high risk of complications from the flu.
When Is Flu Season?
Seasonal flu follows a fairly predictable pattern, starting in the fall and ending in the spring. A sign that it’s started is the sudden rise in the number of school-aged children sick at home with a flu-like illness. This first outbreak is soon followed by an uptick in other age groups, especially adults.
CDC: "Key facts about seasonal influenza (flu)," "Questions and Answers: Swine Flu and You," "Key Facts about Swine Influenza (Swine Flu)." “What You Should Know about Antiviral Drugs,” “The Flu: What To Do If You Get Sick.”
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: "Flu (Influenza): Symptoms."
National Jewish Medical and Research Center: "Influenza and the Flu Vaccine."
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Flu (Influenza)."
American Lung Association: "Influenza Fact Sheet."