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Single dose flu treatment

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The influenza virus can become airborne and is therefore easily spread via coughs and sneezes. Untreated cases can last up to 2 weeks, especially in young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with chronic health conditions, for whom potentially life-threatening complications are also a risk.
  • There is now a single-dose antiviral drug available that destroys influenza enzymes—both A and B strains—which is most effective when administered within the first 48 hours of contracting the virus.
  • There are other vaccines available which offer protection against 4 strains of the influenza virus.

 

The flu is caused by an influenza virus infection, which can be spread via airborne particles expelled in the coughs and sneezes of infected patients. The virus is most easily spread during the first 3 to 4 days of an infection. Infected patients often spread the virus prior to displaying any symptoms.

Many people regard the flu as a minor inconvenience that is of no great danger, but without medical attention the infection can become a chronic condition lasting between 1-2 weeks, with dangerous complications that require hospital treatment a distinct possibility for some. Such treatment can become costly for high-risk groups including young children, the elderly, pregnant women, those suffering with obesity, and people with chronic health conditions or immune system deficiencies. For these groups, the complications can be life-threatening.

How to ensure a speedy recovery from the flu

As the flu is a viral infection, some patients can be treated using antivirals designed to inhibit the virus from reproducing, reducing the amount of virus within the body. Treating the flu in this way is quicker and more effective than treatments that do not rely on antivirals. It also alleviates symptoms and decreases the risk of passing the infection onto others. Research has found that antivirals are most effective when used during the first 48 hours of an infection. This means that they should be administered as soon as any of the following symptoms present: high fever, runny nose, cough, sneeze, general fatigue or aches and pains.

There are 3 main types of antivirals used in Thailand:

Type of antiviral

Limitations

1-time pill Suitable for those aged 12 years and above
5-day capsule course (2x per day) Suitable for infants aged 14 days and above
5-day nasal spray course (2x per day) Suitable for infants aged 14 days and above

1-time pill

5-day capsule course

(twice a day)

5-day course of nasal spray

(2 sprays a day)

1-time antiviral influenza treatment

In our modern-day fast-paced lifestyles, many of us seek speedy and effective solutions when we get ill. This means that when a simple option is available, it will be of great help to us all. There is now such an option to treat the flu in the form of a 1-time pill that inhibits influenza virus enzyme function (meaning the virus can no longer reproduce). In this way, it offers rapid relief for symptoms, reducing fever and easing coughing, sneezing, runny nose, fatigue and aches that often accompany the illness. The treatment is effective against both A and B strains of the virus. It is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream where it remains for a sustained period, which is why only a single dose is required. This treatment is useful for those who are forgetful when it comes to taking medication or for those who usually avoid taking medicine altogether. An additional benefit is that this treatment significantly reduces the risk of passing the virus onto others. However, as there have not yet been any studies into the treatment’s suitability for pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding, the medication is only prescribed after careful consideration by experienced doctors. Fortunately, in addition to the antivirals mentioned above, there are also influenza vaccines available that offer effective protection against the virus. All of this means that symptoms of the flu can be alleviated with greater speed than ever before, while the likelihood of passing the virus onto others can also be reduced. This rainy season is sure to see an all-out war against a number of nasty viruses, but we can rest assured that the flu is one we can overcome. If you suspect you may have contracted the flu, be sure to seek medical attention and treatment at your earliest opportunity.


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References
  • Cowling B et al. Nat Commun 2013; 4: 1935.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). How flu spreads. Available from: www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/spread.htm. Last accessed: November 2019.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2008; 57: RR-7. Available from: www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/rr/rr5707.pdf. Last accessed: November 2019.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Healthy habits to help prevent flu. Available from: www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/actions-prevent-flu.htm. Last accessed: November 2019.
  • Stiver G. CMAJ 2003; 168(1): 49–56.
  • Hayden F et al. N Engl J Med 2018; 379: 913–923
  • Xofluza product information,Thailand 2018

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