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Antiviral flu treatment: Tamiflu & Relenza

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Most people who get flu get better with basic home treatment, such as rest, keeping warm, drinking plenty of fluids and taking painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to help with flu symptoms.

However, for some people at risk of complications from flu, antiviral treatment may be prescribed.

Antivirals do not cure flu but help stop the flu virus multiplying. This can help reduce symptoms and avoid complications, such as pneumonia. Antivirals may also reduce the duration of flu by around a day.

Antiviral medication may also be prescribed to prevent flu.

The two main antiviral medicines used in the NHS are:


Tamiflu is taken as a tablet or liquid within 48 hours of flu symptoms starting.

It is usually prescribed to be taken twice a day for five days.


Relenza is taken as a powder breathed in through an inhaler.

This treatment also has to be started within 48 hours of flu symptoms starting, or 36 hours for children.

The treatment is usually prescribed as two inhalations twice a day for five days.

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Reviewed on March 30, 2017

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