Can the flu be treated?
Yes. There are prescription medications called “antiviral drugs” that can be used to treat flu illness.
What are antiviral drugs?
Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid, an inhaled powder, or an intravenous solution) that fight against the flu in your body. Antiviral drugs are not sold over-the-counter. You can only get them if you have a prescription from your doctor or health care provider. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics, which fight against bacterial infections.
What should I do if I think I have the flu?
If you get the flu, antiviral drugs are a treatment option. Check with your doctor promptly if you are at high risk of serious flu complications (see box below for the full list of high risk factors). Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs to treat your flu illness.
Should I still get a flu vaccine?
Yes. Antiviral drugs are not a substitute for getting a flu vaccine. While flu vaccine can vary in how well it works, a flu vaccine is the first and best way to prevent seasonal influenza. Antiviral drugs are a second line of defense to treat the flu (including seasonal flu and variant flu viruses) if you get sick.