Influenza of Flu is one of the most common causes of hospitalization in people of all ages- it affects both the young and adult population and can lead to serious complications if left untreated. Influenza is caused by various strains of Influenza virus- this is the reason why in a lifetime, we get to experience having flu several times, unlike other infectious diseases which will only strike us once.
Types of Influenza.
There are three general types of influenza- A, B and C. Influenza Type A is the deadliest and most epidemic type of influenza. B is milder than A and causes outbreaks but not as widespread as A. C on the other hand is the mildest and only causes mild respiratory infections similar to common colds. Influenza is spread by droplet and when we inhale viruses that are spread in the air when another person with flu coughs or sneezes, the virus enters our body and respiratory tract and infections start from there. Currently in the US, there are four available drugs which are licensed for prescription when a person catches flu - these are Amantadine, Rimantadine, Zanamivir and Oseltamivir (Tamiflu).
Amantadine and Rimantadine.
Both drugs are approved for both prophylactic use and treatment of influenza- meaning, these drugs can be taken even before a person gets influenza, for preventive purposes and also used when the person catches flu. Amantadine and Rimantadine are also effective against Influenza A outbreaks. It is said that when used prophylactically, Amantadine and Rimantadine is 70-90% effective in preventing flu for both adults and children.
When administered, Amantadine and Rimantadine can reduce the severity and duration of flu. However, there are also related side effects of these drugs which are gastrointestinal in nature like nausea and vomiting, abdominal distress. There are also CNS (central nervous system) effects of these drugs especially those taking Amantadien such as light headedness, anxiety and difficulty concentrating.
Oseltamivir and Zanamivir.
Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and Zanamivir, another popular flu drugs are also effective for both Influenza A and B viruses. However, these drugs are not approved for prophylactic use - meaning, they must be taken when the person already catches flu, not when preventing them from catching the disease.
Both drugs are known to limit the duration of influenza A and B by one day. The recommended duration of treatment for both drugs is generally 3-5 days to prevent resistance of virus to the drugs. Zanamivir, unlike Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) is given as an inhalation therefore, it is important to take note of patients with pulmonary diseases such as asthma because this may cause respiratory distress. The common side effects of these drugs are nausea and vomiting.
The fact that there are a lot of influenza virus strains makes us vulnerable all the time. For this reason, influenza vaccines or flu shots have been considered as a gold standard for the prevention of flu. However, it is also important to know that Anti-Flu drugs are also important for the both the prevention and control of influenza. It is also important to take note that proper hygiene and sanitation is vital in the prevention of influenza.