Dr Bollmann, Anti-Aging and Skin Care Specialist


Flu season is here, and for those of you who have not received their flu shots, it is important to get antiviral treatment early if you develop this severe disease.

CDC recommendations emphasize early empiric antiviral treatment as soon as possible for patients who are severely ill (eg, hospitalized), have progressive illness, and for those who are at greatest risk for complications from influenza (eg, young children, people 65 years and older, pregnant women, people who are morbidly obese, and those with certain underlying chronic medical conditions), no matter their illness severity (eg, hospitalized or outpatient).

Randomized clinical trials and reviews of randomized clinical trials have demonstrated that early treatment of outpatients reduces the risk for lower respiratory tract complications requiring antibiotics in adults and for otitis media in children. Observational studies of hospitalized patients have shown that early treatment reduces the risk for death. While limited data suggest that treatment may still be beneficial if started more than 2 days after illness onset, the greatest benefit of treatment occurs when treatment is initiated within 2 days of illness onset.

Thus, decisions about starting antiviral treatment should not wait for laboratory confirmation of influenza, especially for patients who are severely ill and for high-risk patients. In addition, on the basis of clinical judgment, clinicians may prescribe antiviral medications to persons with suspected uncomplicated influenza (eg, outpatients) who are not known to be at high risk for complications. Clinical trials have demonstrated that early treatment reduces the duration of symptoms by about 1 day.



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