Flu (Influenza Virus)


Treatment for the Flu (Influenza)

        Flu virus typically strikes during the winter months. It often gives symptoms similar to a bad cold, but most of the time also includes muscle aches (aching all over), high fever, and cough. It usually comes on very suddenly. Some children and adults will have nausea, vomiting and diarrhea with the above symptoms.

        Taking antibiotics for flu is not necessary, and may be dangerous! Antibiotics can give unwanted side effects like rashes, vomiting and diarrhea. They can also result in vaginal yeast infections, and in babies a very bad yeast diaper rash. Many people have died from severe allergic reactions to antibiotics. Another serious side effect is the emerging problem of bacterial resistance. This means that when antibiotics are over-used, or used for unnecessary reasons, your normal bacteria become resistant to the antibiotics. Later, when you might need an antibiotic to save you from a bacterial infection, the antibiotics will not work, and you could die from a bacterial infection.

Antibiotics are useless to treat the flu, and could cause dangerous side effects.

        Sometimes flu virus becomes complicated by a bacterial infection, such as an ear infection or pneumonia. In this case, an appropriate antibiotic should be used.

        Treatment of flu symptoms includes rest, analgesics (such as Tylenol® or Advil®), and lots of fluids. Sometimes decongestants and antihistamines may help, but the effect is usually minimal. Flu symptoms usually last about a week. If you have vomiting or diarrhea, a clear liquid diet can help. Then progress to mild foods.

Anti-viral Medication can only work if given early!

        In the last few years, new medicines called "anti-virals" have become available. These are prescription medicines, such as Tamiflu® or Relenza®. These medicines cannot kill viruses, but they can prevent their release from infected cells, thus preventing spread to the rest of your body. If you wait until you have been sick for a few days, the viruses are already spread to your entire body and these medicines will not work at all.

        If you want to get the benefit of an anti-viral medicine to help with your flu virus, you MUST call your doctor within the first 24 hours that you start to feel the symptoms. Then take the first dose of the anti-viral as soon as you get it from the drugstore! After 48 hours, you will just be wasting your money on an anti-viral.

Prevention

        The best prevention for flu illnesses is to keep physically fit. This means avoiding harmful toxins like cigarette smoke, eating healthy foods, and getting regular exercise. If your body is physically fit, your immune system is far more likely to be working at its best. Having a strong immune system is your very best defense against flu and other viruses.

        Another good prevention is to get a flu shot every year, around October. These vaccines do not protect against all types of flu, but they do protect from a few of the more common strains. 

        Another important prevention for flu is to avoid exposing yourself to flu viruses, such as large crowds of people during the winter. Also it really does help to wash your hands frequently, and using alcohol-based handwash is even better at killing viruses.

 

 

© Rick Voakes 1999, Health-bytes LOGO  by Rie Cramer