Sofie Wise

Jennifer Nelson

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About Author — Jennifer is a freelance writer in the Midwest who writes about a variety of topics but especially enjoys educating people about their health and the health of their pets.

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog.

Antibiotics for Flu

Flu season is upon us once again, and every year, people go to the doctor to try to get antibiotics for flu symptoms. Unfortunately, the flu is caused by a virus, and antibiotics only work for infections caused by bacteria.

Luckily, the flu can usually be treated at home.

Here’s what you need to know about the flu.

Flu causes

The flu is caused by the influenza virus, which is extremely contagious. Since people are contagious for 1-2 days before they start showing symptoms, it can be difficult to avoid catching the flu.

Flu symptoms

Flu symptoms may resemble a cold at first, but flu symptoms are usually more severe than cold symptoms and may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Cold sweats or shivering
  • Sore throat
  • Aching joints and limbs
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may occur in children but are rare flu symptoms in adults

Flu complications

While most people recover from the flu without any serious complications, there are people for whom the flu can pose serious complications including death. Potential flu complications include:

Flu risk factors

The flu kills as many as half a million people or more around the world every year. In the United States alone, around 36,000 people die from the flu each year. Groups of people who are more at risk of serious complications, including death, from the flu include:

  • Those over 65
  • Babies and small children
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with heart or cardiovascular problems
  • People with an impaired immune system
  • Individuals being treated for cancer
  • People with breathing problems like bronchitis or asthma
  • Anybody with diabetes
  • Those taking steroids
  • People with kidney disease
  • Those who live or work in facilities that house a lot of people
  • People who are severely obese

Flu treatment

If you’re at risk of having severe complications from the flu, call your doctor right away. For everybody else, typical flu treatment includes:

  • Rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) reduce pain and fevers
  • Decongestants, available in either oral or nasal spray forms, reduce swelling in nasal passages
  • Antihistamines can relieve sneezing, itching, and runny nose
  • Antivirals like oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) can reduce the severity and duration of symptoms

Antibiotics for flu

Since a virus causes the flu, antibiotics for flu are not effective. If you are at risk of complications from the flu virus and get to the doctor quickly enough, you can receive an antiviral medication like oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza).

Think you may be experiencing symptoms of the flu? Book an appointment with a PlushCare physician and get a prescription for tamiflu today.


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