Treatments for influenza include a range of medications and therapies that are used in response to disease influenza. Treatments may either directly target the influenza virus itself; or instead they may just offer relief to symptoms of the disease, while the body's own immune system works to recover from infection.
The two main classes of antiviral drugs used against influenza are neuraminidase inhibitors, such as zanamivir and oseltamivir, or inhibitors of the viral M2 protein, such as amantadine and rimantadine. These drugs can reduce the severity of symptoms if taken soon after infection and can also be taken to decrease the risk of infection. However, viral strains have emerged that show drug resistance to both classes of drug.
The United States authority on disease prevention, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends that persons suffering from influenza infections:
* Stay at home
* Get plenty of rest
* Drink a lot of liquids
* Do not smoke or drink alcohol
* Consider over-the-counter medications to relieve flu symptoms
* Consult a physician early on for best possible treatment
* Remain alert for emergency warning signs
Warning signs are symptoms that indicate that the disease is becoming serious and needs immediate medical attention. These include:
* Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
* Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
* Severe or persistent vomiting
In children other warning signs include irritability, failing to wake up and interact, rapid breathing, and a blueish skin color. Another warning sign in children is if the flu symptoms appear to resolve, but then reappear with fever and a bad cough.
Antiviral drugs directly target the viruses responsible for influenza infections. Generally, anti-viral drugs work optimally when taken within a few days of the onset... [continues]
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