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Anti Viral


Antiviral drugs are a class of medication used specifically for treating viral infections rather than bacterial ones. Most antivirals are used for specific viral infections, while a broad-spectrum antiviral is effective against a wide range of viruses. Unlike most antibiotics, antiviral drugs do not destroy their target pathogen; instead they inhibit their development. Antiviral drugs are one class of antimicrobials, a larger group which also includes antibiotic (also termed antibacterial), ant.....   Read More

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Antiviral drugs are a class of medication used specifically for treating viral infections rather than bacterial ones. Most antivirals are used for specific viral infections, while a broad-spectrum antiviral is effective against a wide range of viruses. Unlike most antibiotics, antiviral drugs do not destroy their target pathogen; instead they inhibit their development.

Antiviral drugs are one class of antimicrobials, a larger group which also includes antibiotic (also termed antibacterial), antifungal and antiparasitic drugs, or antiviral drugs based on monoclonal antibodies. Most antivirals are considered relatively harmless to the host, and therefore can be used to treat infections. They should be distinguished from viricides, which are not medication but deactivate or destroy virus particles, either inside or outside the body. Natural antivirals are produced by some plants such as eucalyptus and Australian tea trees.

What are antiviral drugs?

Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid, an inhaled powder, or an intravenous solution) that fight against the flu virus 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) and you develop flu symptoms. Flu signs and symptoms can include feeling feverish or having a 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 flu. Antiviral drugs are a second line of defense to treat the flu (including seasonal flu and variant flu viruses) if you get sick.

What are the benefits of antiviral drugs?

When treatment is started within two days of becoming sick with flu symptoms, antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by about one day. They may reduce the risk of complications such as ear infections in children, and pneumonia and hospitalizations in adults.  For people at high risk of serious flu complications, early treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having milder illness instead of more severe illness that might require a hospital stay.  For adults hospitalized with flu illness, early antiviral treatment can reduce their risk of death.

What are the possible side effects of antiviral drugs?

The most common reported side effects of antiviral drugs for flu are nausea and vomiting. Other less common side effects also have been reported. Your doctor can give you more information about these drugs or you can check the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website for specific information about an antiviral drug, including the manufacturer’s package insert.

When should antiviral drugs be taken for treatment?

Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within two days of getting sick. However, starting them later can still be beneficial, especially if the sick person is at high risk of serious flu complications or is in the hospital with more severe illness.  Follow instructions for taking these drugs.

What antiviral drugs are recommended this flu season?

There are three FDA-approved antiviral drugs recommended by CDC to treat flu this season.

  • oseltamivir
  • zanamivir
  • peramivir

Generic oseltamivir is available as a pill or liquid suspension and are FDA approved for early treatment of flu in people 14 days old and older. Relenza® is a powder that is inhaled and approved for early treatment of flu in people 7 years of age and older. (Note: Rel is not recommended for people with breathing problems like asthma or COPD.) Rap is given intravenously by a health care provider and is approved for early treatment of flu in people 2 years of age and older.

How long should antiviral drugs be taken?

To treat the flu, oseltamivir and zanamivir are usually prescribed to be taken twice daily for 5 days, although people hospitalized with the flu may need antiviral treatment for longer than 5 days. Peramivir is given one time intravenously over a period of 15 to 30 minutes.

Can children take antiviral drugs?

Yes. Oseltamivir is recommended by the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for early treatment of flu in people of any age, and for the prevention of flu (i.e., prophylaxis) in people 3 months of age and older. Zanamivir is recommended for early treatment of flu in people 7 years of age and older, and for the prevention of flu in people 5 years of age and older. Peramivir is recommended for early treatment in people 2 years of age and older.

If your child’s provider prescribes oseltamivir capsules for your child and your child cannot swallow capsules, the prescribed capsules may be opened, mixed with a thick sweetened liquid, and given that way. Learn more here.

Can pregnant women take antiviral drugs?

Yes. Oral oseltamivir is recommended for treatment of pregnant women with flu because compared to other recommended antiviral medications it has the most studies available to suggest that it is safe and beneficial during pregnancy.

Who should take antiviral drugs?

It’s very important that flu antiviral drugs are started as soon as possible to treat hospitalized flu patients, people who are very sick with the flu but who do not need to be hospitalized, and people who are at high risk of serious flu complications based on their age or health if they develop flu symptoms. Although other people with mild illness who are not at high risk of flu complications may also be treated early with antiviral drugs by their doctor, most people who are otherwise healthy and get the flu do not need to be treated with antiviral drugs.

The Role Of Viruses In Vaccination

The greatest success against virus infections has been by increasing immunity through vaccination (in the prevention of influenza, polio, measles, mumps, and smallpox) with live attenuated (weakened) or killed viruses. For example, vaccination led to the eradication of smallpox. In the case of influenza, the causative viruses are constantly changing their antigenic proteins; thus, revaccination is required as the antigenic makeup of the viruses changes annually. Some virus groups contain 50 or more different viruses, making effective vaccination difficult.

Passive immunization with serum or globulin (antibodies) from immune persons has been used to prevent viral infections. Immunoglobulins, such as those used against hepatitis and respiratory syncytial virus, are effective only for prevention, not for treatment.

Anti Viral

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