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How is H1N1 influenza (swine flu) treated?

Any over-the-counter medication can treat swine-flu symptoms, but to shorten the duration and severity of the infection requires antiviral medication. Oseltamivir, known as Tamiflu, and zanamivir, known as Relenza, are available only by prescription and are most effective when taken within 48 hours after symptoms materialize. Because these drugs are in limited supply, they might not be available to everyone, only medical personnel, people in the military and those in high-risk groups, such as pregnant women and children under age 5. Experts say these drugs also are 70 to 90 percent effective at preventing swine flu.

The treatment for swine flu (also known as H1N1) depends upon how sick you are. People who are at risk for complications from the flu (including pregnant women, children under five, people over 65, and anyone with a chronic health condition) should contact their doctor right away to see what kind of treatment they need.

In severe cases (or in people who are at risk for complications), doctors sometimes prescribe antiviral medications, which make it harder for the virus to reproduce in your body. The two antivirals used to treat H1N1 are called oseltamivir and zanamivir. For milder cases, doctors may recommend staying home (and away from others) and taking care of yourself with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medicines if necessary.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.