Influenza Needs Symptomatic Treatment Instead Of Antibiotics And Long Term Cough Syrups


Influenza, or the flu, is a viral illness that typically lasts 1-2 weeks. Antibiotics are not effective against the flu, as it is a viral infection. Instead, symptomatic treatment, including rest, hydration, and over-the-counter pain relievers, is recommended. Cough syrups should be used cautiously, and antiviral medications may be prescribed by a healthcare professional to help shorten the duration and severity of the illness. Using antibiotics or long-term cough syrups to treat the flu is not recommended, and can lead to antibiotic resistance and other health problems.

Influenza is a viral infection that affects millions of people every year, causing a range of symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, and body aches. Despite being a viral illness, many people still turn to antibiotics and long-term cough syrups to treat their symptoms. However, experts suggest that symptomatic treatment is the best approach to managing influenza.

Dr Vasunethra Kasargod, Consultant, Pulmonology, Manipal Hospital Miller’s Road, says, “Influenza, also known as the common flu, has been increasingly reported lately, especially during the months of February and March. Its symptoms typically include fever, body aches, sore throat, cough with white sputum, and a runny nose. Although, severe symptoms like breathlessness and wheezing can occur in a small number of patients, most cases can be managed through symptomatic treatment, such as the use of paracetamol, antihistamines, and proper hydration.”

However, some patients may require hospitalization due to a drop in oxygen saturation. “Overall, early recognition of symptoms and appropriate management is key to preventing complications associated with influenza. Unfortunately, patients end up taking unnecessary antibiotics which are indicated only if there is secondary bacterial infection and it’s less common in common flu. Patient would respond well anti virals instead when given at the right time,” adds Dr Kasargod. Few patients end up having long term cough due to post viral bronchitis for which they take cough syrups or cough drops for long durations. This again is not indicated and inhaled bronchodilators are preferred.

“Antibiotics may not be effective against viral infections, including the flu. Using antibiotics unnecessarily can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which poses a serious threat to public health. Moreover, long-term use of cough syrups can have adverse effects on the body, such as drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired coordination. Therefore, it is crucial to opt for symptomatic treatment that targets the specific symptoms of the flu,” says Dr. J Harikishan, Senior General Physician, Kamineni Hospitals, Hyderabad.

Symptomatic treatment involves the use of medication that addresses the specific symptoms of the flu. For example, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to reduce fever and relieve body aches. Decongestants and nasal sprays can help alleviate congestion and runny nose. Additionally, staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest can also help the body fight off the infection.

“One of the reasons why people may turn to antibiotics and cough syrups to treat the flu is because they may not be aware of the available symptomatic treatments. As physicians, it is our responsibility to educate patients about the best course of treatment for their flu symptoms. By doing so, we can help prevent the unnecessary use of antibiotics and long-term cough syrups, which can have negative consequences for both individual and public health,” adds Dr Harikishan.

Influenza is a highly contagious virus that can be easily spread from person to person. Thus, it is crucial to take action to stop the infection from spreading. This entails maintaining proper hygiene, such as often washing your hands and protecting your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Additionally, staying home when you are sick can help prevent the spread of the virus to others.

Also Read: Importance of Gargling For Sore Throat and Other Respiratory illnesses

The best approach to managing the symptoms of influenza is through symptomatic treatment. “Antibiotics and long-term cough syrups are not effective in treating the virus and can have negative consequences for individual and public health. As physicians, we must educate our patients about the benefits of symptomatic treatment and the importance of preventing the spread of the virus through good hygiene practices. By doing so, we can help ensure that patients receive the best possible care for their flu symptoms while also promoting public health,” feels Dr Harikishan.

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