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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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Flu Treatment With Antibiotics

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Which Antivirals Does the CDC Recommend?

The CDC recommends oseltamivir (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab), and zanamivir (Relenza) for flu. They are most effective when given within 48 hours after symptoms start to appear. These flu drugs can decrease the duration of the flu by one to two days if used within this early time period. These antivirals are usually given for a period of five days for the treatment of flu. For prevention of flu, antiviral drugs may be given for at least 7 days. In some cases, antivirals may be given for longer periods of time.

Oseltamivir is approved for treatment in those over 2 weeks of age and for prevention in people 1 year old and older.

Peramivir, given in one intravenous dose, is approved for people ages 18 and older.

Zanamivir is approved for treatment of people 7 years old and older and for prevention in people 5 years old and older.

Are There Side Effects With Antiviral Drugs?

Side effects of antiviral drugs may include nervousness, poor concentration, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Zanamivir is not recommended for people with a history of breathing problems, such as asthma, because it may worsen breathing. Discuss side effects with your doctor.

What Does Antibiotic Resistance Mean?

According to the CDC, antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria changes in some way to reduce or eliminate the effectiveness of the antibiotic.

When bacteria are exposed to antibiotics repeatedly, such as when you take the medication needlessly or too frequently, the germs in your body start to evolve. These changes can make the germs stronger than before so they completely resist the antibiotic. Your illness may linger with no signs of improvement. Or your illness may suddenly take a turn for the worse, requiring you to seek emergency medical care. You may have to be admitted to the hospital and get several different antibiotics intravenously. Sadly, those around you may get the resistant bacteria and come down with a similar illness that is very difficult to treat.

But Aren't Antibiotics Quick Cures for Illnesses?

Unfortunately, demand for a "quick fix" for what ails us has fueled this resistance crisis. In fact, more than two-thirds of the 150 million antibiotic prescriptions written each year for patients outside of hospitals are unnecessary, according to a CDC study.

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