Do antibiotics help cure 'flu?

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Do antibiotics help cure 'flu?

No. 'Flu, or influenza, is caused by a virus and antibiotics do not treat viral infections. Some antiviral treatments for 'flu have and are being developed although their effectiveness is limited as they only seem to shorten the length of the illness by one day. (See the Cochrane Review 'Amantadine and rimantadine for preventing and treating Influenza A in adults' for more details). There are three types of 'flu (See the netdoctor website):
  • Type A which is the most serious and most common type. It breaks out every 2-3 years.
  • Type B which is less serious but only breaks out every 4-5 years
  • Type C which is mild, similar symptoms to a cold.
    There are however, many strains of these types of 'flu which is why we can get 'flu more than once (see the immune system section of this site for more details). Usually the best treatment is rest and drinking lots of fluids. But for those at risk - according to the NHS that is the following groups - yearly 'flu vaccinations from your doctor are recommended:
    • chronic respiratory disease, e.g. asthma
    • chronic heart disease
    • chronic renal (kidney) disease
    • diabetes
    • people with damaged immune systems due to disease or treatment
    • those over 65 years old

Related Resources
Amantadine and rimantadine for preventing and treating influenza A in adults (Cochrane Review)
Flu jab
Antibiotics for the Common Cold (Cochrane Review)
NHS Self-help Guide - Colds & Flu
Flu & flu immunisation
Frequently asked questions on flu
Resources about the Common Cold
Resources about Influenza
The facts about Influenza
Prodigy Guidance - Common Cold
Cold or Flu, antibiotics don't work for you

Date of Posting: 14/01/2003
Date of next Review: 13/01/2005

Related Questions:
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Will antibiotics get rid of my cold?
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MeSH keywords:
Antiviral Agents; Influenza; Amantadine; Rimantadine; Influenza Vaccine

Created by CeRC. Page last updated 13/1/2004. To contact us click here.

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