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Viral Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds and Influenza) and Antiviral Medications

Read more about Antiviral Medications.

Overview

Only influenza (flu) can be specifically treated (and, in some cases, prevented) with antiviral medications. Antiviral medications are available by prescription and, due to their potential side effects, are only recommended for people at high risk for complications associated with the flu.

The antivirals discussed here are:

Effect of Antiviral Medications on Viral Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds and Influenza)

Antiviral medications help treat the flu by inhibiting various functions of the viruses that cause it.

How to Use Antiviral Medications

Only influenza can be specifically treated with antiviral medication, and those medications should be used only in serious cases because they may have unwanted side effects. Most people with the flu do not need antiviral medicine. If you have the flu, check with your doctor to see if you need antiviral medicine. You will need it if you are in a high-risk group or if you have a severe illness (like breathing problems).

Side Effects and Warnings

Side effects of prescription antiviral medicines for cold sores are rare, but may include:

  • Allergic reaction (rash, swelling of the face, difficulty breathing)
  • Decreased urine production
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Upset stomach, decreased appetite
  • Headache
  • Local numbness or tingling in area of application

Possible side effects of docosanol (Abreva) include:

  • Headaches
  • Allergic reaction (rash, swelling of the face, difficulty breathing)

Treatments

Effect of Amantadine (Symmetrel) and Rimantadine (Flumadine) on Viral Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds and Influenza)

Antiviral drugs like amantadine (Symmetrel) and rimantadine (Flumadine) help treat the flu by reducing the virus' ability to replicate. They do not cure the flu, but can help reduce symptoms and the...

Read more about Viral Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds and Influenza) and Amantadine (Symmetrel) and Rimantadine (Flumadine).

Effect of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and Zanamivir (Relenza) on Viral Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds and Influenza)

Both oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) help treat the flu by interfering with specific viral chemical processes.

Read more about Viral Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds and Influenza) and Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and Zanamivir (Relenza).

Effect of Peramivir on Viral Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds and Influenza)

As an antiviral medication, peramivir helps treat the H1N1 flu by interfering with specific viral chemical processes.

Read more about Viral Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds and Influenza) and Peramivir.

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