Flu – Conventional Medicine Treatments

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The number one preventative measure against influenzas A and B is a flu vaccination every winter. The vaccine takes 15 days from the day of injection to become properly effective and studies have shown that vaccinated patients suffer fewer viral infections. There has been some controversy over flu vaccinations after a swine flu vaccine was linked to the development of narcolepsy in children and young adults.

Antiviral flu drugs do exist but are commonly not taken unless  flu symptoms are severe as most antivirals do have side effects. There are two main types:

Tamiflu: (oseltamivir) which is taken orally within 48 hours of the first symptoms.  It can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea and if you have kidney disease you may need to take a lesser dose than recommended.

Relenza: (zanamivir) is a dry powder that can be breathed in via an inhaler. It needs to be taken within 48 hours of first flu symptoms.

Antivirals will not cure flu but they will help to cut the length of time patients are ill and relieve some of the symptoms.

In many cases patients treat themselves with over-the-counter medications. Paracetamol or Ibuprofen can be used to lower temperature and relieve muscle aches. Avoid giving Aspirin to children.

Getting plenty of rest and drink plenty of liquids. These are the two most important remedies. Use a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead to reduce the discomfort of fever. If possible place a dehumidifier in your room to make breathing easier.

Decongestants in oral or nasal spray forms can be used to help relieve nasal passages, however some decongestants can make patients unable to sleep. They should not be used for more than 3-5 days or else there is a danger of rebound effect. Saline sprays, however, do not have rebound effect and can be used for longer. Decongestants can also increase blood pressure so check with your pharmacist if this could be an issue for you.

Cough medicines may help clear excess phlegm but check with your pharmacist which product would be best for you and what other drugs you should avoid combining it with. When you are suffering from a number of symptoms is it easy to overdose with remedies that each contain the same active ingredients so always check amounts and any possible interactions.

Gargles  and Lozenges can help ease sore throats, but don’t use them for more than a few days as they can mask the signs of strep throat which is a bacterial infection that should be treated with antibiotics.

If you are suffering from any of the following: difficulty breathing, pain or tightness of the chest, dizziness, wheezing, confusion, vomiting, convulsions, or blueness of the lips, you should see a doctor immediately.

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