What Is the Best Treatment of the Flu?

Medically Reviewed on 1/11/2023
Best Treatment of the Flu
Influenza can be detected one day before symptoms begin and up to five to seven days after getting sick.

Flu (influenza) is a viral contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the respiratory tract (nose, throat, and lungs).

Flu viruses typically circulate during the fall and winter (known as the “flu season”) in the United States.

The best treatment options for the flu include the following:

Treatment options for the flu

Most people get better and are relieved of symptoms within 4 to 7 days, however, some people may develop pneumonia or a brain infection.

Treatment options for the flu include the following:

  • Antiviral drugs
  • Pain relievers for fever and aches
  • At-home remedies
    • Take adequate rest
    • Drink plenty of fluids
    • Take vitamin C supplements
    • Use aromatherapy oils, such as peppermint and eucalyptus, to relieve congestion
    • Sit in a steam bath to clear the sinuses
    • Gargle with salt water that helps soothe a sore throat
  • Vaccination
    • The CDC advises that everyone aged six months and older in the United States should get the flu vaccine once a year to reduce the risk of flu and/or its potentially serious complications.
    • All flu vaccines (administered through an injection or a nasal spray) in the United States are “quadrivalent” vaccines, which means they can protect against all four different flu viruses.

What are the types of the flu?

Influenza viruses are primarily categorized into four main types, which include:

  1. Type A: Only known viruses that can cause pandemics (global epidemics).
    • These can be further divided into two types:
      1. A(H1N1)
      2. A(H3N2)
  2. Type B: Just like type A viruses, these can cause seasonal epidemics.
    • Type B viruses can be classified into:
      1. B/Yamagata
      2. B/Victoria
  3. Type C: These viruses cause mild illness.
  4. Type D: These primarily affect cattle and are not known to infect or cause illness in humans.

How is the flu transmitted?

The viruses causing the flu are thought to spread in ways such as:

  • Droplet infection by coughing, sneezing, or talking
  • Touching contaminated surfaces or objects

People at a higher risk of developing flu or serious flu complications include:

  • People older than 65 years 
  • Young children (younger than two years)
  • People with underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes
  • Pregnant women
  • People with compromised immunity (HIV-positive)
  • Those on immunosuppressive medications


Which illness is known as a viral upper respiratory tract infection? See Answer

What are the symptoms of the flu?

The predominant symptoms of flu include:

How is the flu diagnosed?

Although the contagious period of the flu varies depending on the age group and the viral load, it can be detected in infected people one day before symptoms begin and up to five to seven days after getting sick.

The diagnosis of the flu is generally based on the appearance of typical symptoms; certain tests may be recommended, including:

  • Rapid influenza diagnostic tests: Detect the antigens (virus) that stimulate an immune response.
  • Rapid molecular assays: Help detect the genetic material of the virus.
  • Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction/viral culture of nasopharyngeal or throat secretions: Are the gold standards for determining influenza virus infection.

What are the complications of the flu?

Some of the influenza-related complications include:

Medically Reviewed on 1/11/2023
Image Source: iStock image

About Flu CDC https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/index.html

Influenza Virus NIH https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2928832/

Flu (Influenza) National Foundation for Infectious Diseases https://www.nfid.org/infectious-diseases/influenza-flu/