Should You Take Antiviral Medication For The Flu?

With symptoms such as fever, body aches, and headaches, the flu isn't fun for anyone, but it is more dangerous for some people than others. Most people feel better after a week or two, but some people develop potentially life-threatening complications. This can happen to anyone, but it is more common for people in high-risk groups, including children, pregnant people, people over the age of 65, people with a BMI above 40, and people with certain chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, HIV, and heart disease. TheĀ Harvard Medical School explains that many people in these groups have weakened immune systems, which puts them at risk of pneumonia.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 140,000-710,000 hospitalizations and 12,000-52,000 deaths were caused by the flu each year between 2010-2020. That being said, there is a way for high-risk people to reduce their risk of complications if they get the flu.

Antiviral medication is a good choice for most high-risk people

The CDC recommends that high-risk people contact their doctor and get immediate treatment if they develop flu symptoms. Among these treatments are antiviral drugs that fight off the flu virus in a person's body. These drugs can reduce fever and other flu symptoms, help you feel better more quickly, and reduce your risk of complications, hospitalization, and death. It is important to get a prescription early, as the drugs are most effective within the first couple of days of symptoms. Even if your symptoms start off mild, there is no guarantee they will stay that way.

The CDC adds that most healthy people who are not at high risk of flu complications do not need to be treated with antiviral drugs. However, the treatment is still available if their doctor decides it is the best course of action to treat the flu.