Harvard Men's Health Watch

Influenza alert: When you need an antiviral boost

People older than 65 or with certain chronic health conditions are at higher risk of serious complications from an influenza infection. Lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure, dementia, and liver or kidney disease make a person more likely to develop serious complications of flu, such as pneumonia. Current guidelines suggest people at high risk consider taking antiviral medications if they contract flu. The medications in use are oseltamivir (Tamiflu), taken as a pill, and zanamivir (Relenza), which is inhaled. The drugs are also FDA-approved to shorten the typical duration of the flu, but only by less than a day. It may not be worth the risk of drug side effects like nausea and vomiting.
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