Influenza (Seasonal Flu) - Treatment Overview
In most healthy people,
influenza (flu) will go away in 5 to 7 days. The worst
symptoms usually last 3 to 4 days. Home treatment to ease symptoms and prevent
complications is usually all that is needed.
can be taken to:
- Reduce the severity and duration of symptoms
caused by infection with influenza A or B virus.
- Shorten the length
of the illness.
- Control outbreaks of the flu in nursing
- Reduce the spread of the virus to people at high risk for
complications of the flu (high-risk groups).
- Reduce complications from the flu.
People at high risk of complications are encouraged to
contact a doctor within 48 hours of their first symptoms to find out whether
they need medicine to shorten the illness. They also should call a doctor to
receive medicine if they have been exposed to the flu. For more information,
- Flu: Should I Take Antiviral Medicine?
If medicines are not used, contact your doctor if symptoms
of a complication develop.
What to Think About
Yearly immunization with
inactivated influenza vaccine(What is a PDF document?) (flu shot) or the
nasal spray flu vaccine(What is a PDF document?) prevents flu infection and its complications in
most people. The nasal spray vaccine is approved for use by healthy people who are 2 to 49
years old. You should not get the nasal spray vaccine if you:
Before getting a flu vaccine, talk to your doctor if:
The yearly immunization rate is typically low for people
younger than 65 who are at high risk of developing the flu. All people in
high-risk groups and those who could transmit the virus to them because of
regular contact are strongly encouraged to get the flu vaccine.
Almost every community has a program that offers flu vaccines at low cost
during the flu season. You also can get a flu vaccine during a
routine visit to a doctor or pharmacy. Many health clinics have set
hours at the start of the flu season for people to get flu vaccines without needing
to make an appointment.
To help you decide if the flu vaccine is
right for you, see:
- Flu Vaccines: Should I Get a Flu Vaccine?
Although antiviral medicines sometimes prevent the flu,
they do not work in the same way as a yearly immunization and should not
replace a flu shot or dose of the nasal spray vaccine.