It is best to not get the flu at all. So get a flu shot and wash your hands frequently.
If you do catch the flu, usually, you’ll need nothing more than bed rest and plenty of fluids. But if you have severe infection or are at higher risk for complications, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or baloxavir (Xofluza). These drugs may shorten your illness by a day or so and help prevent serious complications. They do not prevent the spread of the flu.
If you get sick, take every precaution to protect others from getting sick:
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like flu.
- Stay home until you are better.
If you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. Your fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
What are the benefits of antiviral drugs?
Antiviral treatment works best when started soon after flu illness begins. When treatment is started within two days of becoming sick with flu symptoms, antiviral drugs can lessen fever and flu symptoms, and shorten the time you are sick by about one day. They also may reduce the risk of complications such as ear infections or pneumonia. For people at high risk of serious flu complications, early treatment with an antiviral drug can mean having milder illness instead of more severe illness that might require a hospital stay.
The CDC states that prescribing antiviral drugs as prevention should be limited to those as highest risk for complications in order to avoid development of resistant strains.
Tamiflu Generic $45 taken twice a day for 5 days
Xofluza $155 taken as a one time dose
Antiviral medication side effects may include nausea and vomiting. These side effects may be lessened if the drug is taken with food
Per the CDC, rapid flu tests have low sensitivity (rate of true positive results) and specificity (percent of true negative results) rates such that false negative tests are more likely than false positives. In up to half of all flu cases the test will be negative. In short rapid flu tests should not be relied upon as the final diagnostic tool.
If you think you have the flu or need help easing your flu-like symptoms, please call your IMA Primary Care Practitioner or visit one of IMA’s three Urgent Care Centers.