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Flu in South Carolina

Medications to Help Lessen Symptoms of the Flu

Check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist for correct, safe use of medications.


  • Are medicines used to treat viral infections like seasonal flu
  • Work by preventing the spread of the virus in your body
  • Are most effective if taken within 12-48 hours of your first symptom
  • Must be prescribed by a healthcare provider
  • Are not needed in many flu cases — most healthy people recover just fine without them
  • Can be prescribed for children as young as 1 year of age
  • May be especially beneficial for people at high risk of complications from flu.
  • Include the brands Tamiflu® and Relenza®, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to treat flu.
  • Are very different from antibiotics.


  • Kill or prevent the spread of bacteria
  • Require a prescription.
  • Have no effect on viruses like the ones that cause seasonal flu
  • May, in fact, make you sicker if you take them for a viral infection like the flu or a cold
  • Are needed in cases where a flu infection leads to a bacterial infection. If you suffer severe symptoms or your illness lasts a long time, then gets better, then gets worse again, you could possibly have a bacterial infection. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if you do and if you might benefit from antibiotics.
  • Are sometimes overprescribed. To learn more, see the CDC’s Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work

Over-the-Counter Cold, Flu and Pain Medicines

  • Can be dangerous in some situations. For instance, do not give aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) to children or teenagers who have the flu; this can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome. Always check the ingredients of other medicines to make sure they do not contain aspirin.
  • Should not be given to a child younger than 4 years of age without talking to a health care provider first. The safest way to care for flu symptoms in very young children, especially those younger than 2 years of age, is to use a clean cool-mist humidifier and a suction bulb to help clear away mucus.
  • Are sometimes used to treat children 5 years of age and older and teenagers suffering from flu so long as the medicines do not contain aspirin.  Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®, Nuprin®) are some of the medicines that do not  contain aspirin. These may help relieve symptoms.
  • Can be used to treat fevers and aches. Choices include acetaminophen (Tylenol®), ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®, Nuprin®) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Naproxen (Aleve®). 
  • Should be used according to the package instructions. Do not double dose!
  • May help lessen some symptoms such as cough and congestion.
  • Will not lessen how infectious a person is.
  • Could harm patients with kidney disease or stomach problems in some instances. If you have kidney or stomach problems, check with your health care provider before taking any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Naproxen (Aleve®).
  • Could interact with other over-the-counter or prescription drugs for other medical conditions. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist to be sure.

Source: CDC

If, after reading the information available on our website, you have questions about the vaccine,
please call 1-800-27SHOTS (1-800-277-4687).