Flu Medicine: 6 Medications You Can Take

Updated in January 2024

Flu medicines your doctor can prescribe to promote recovery from the flu virus include anti-inflammatories, antipyretics and mucolytics, like ibuprofen, acetaminophen and bromhexine hydrochloride. These medications help to improve flu symptoms like a cough, fever and headache.

Flu medicine can usually be purchased at over-the-counter at a pharmacy. However, it is important to consult your doctor or health care provided first before starting a new medication, as this will allow him or her to recommend the best medicine, dose and duration of use. 

In some cases, in addition to prescribing over-the-counter medication, the doctor may also recommend antivirals to speed up recovery. The flu vaccine is also recommended for prevention of the flu virus, especially for children and older people. 

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What to take for the flu

Flu medicine that your doctor may prescribe include:

1. Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory, like diclofenac or nimesulide, which can be taken to reduce throat inflammation. This can help relieve discomfort and allow for solid foods and water to be swallowed more easily. Learn more about what ibuprofen is for and how to take it.

2. Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen is an analgesic and antipyretic that is usually prescribed to relieve symptoms like a sore throat, headache, earache or fever.

Also recommended: How to Cure the Flu Fast: 12 Tips for Flu Relief tuasaude.com/en/how-to-cure-the-flu-fast

3. Dextromethorphan

Dextromethorphan and other similar medications, like levodropropizine and clobutinol hydrochloride, have antitussive properties and may be indicated to relieve coughs caused by the flu, especially when the cough is dry. Learn more about cough syrups you can take, and how to take them.

4. Loratadine

Loratadine, as well as desloratadine and fexofenadine, are antihistamines, which can be indicated to relieve allergic coughs, sneezing, red eyes and runny nose, which are common symptoms of the flu.

However, it is important to be careful when using antihistamines, as some can cause drowsiness and are not recommended for people who work with heavy machinery, for example.

5. Bromhexine hydrochloride

Bromhexine hydrochloride is an expectorant syrup that can be prescribed by the doctor for cases of coughing with phlegm. It helps to thin out secretions, making them easier to eliminate. 

In addition to bromhexine hydrochloride, other medications with similar properties, such as ambroxol hydrochloride and acetylcysteine, may also be recommended by the doctor to relieve coughing with phlegm.

6. Oseltamivir

In some cases, the doctor may prescribe the use of antivirals, such as oseltamivir, also known as Tamiflu, to accelerate the elimination of the flu virus. This medicine can help relieve symptoms more quickly and prevent complications.

Home remedies for the flu

To treat the flu without taking medication purchased at the pharmacy, you can opt for teas like lemon tea, echinacea tea, linden tea, or elderberry tea. These plants contain properties that help the body to clear the infection. Learn about other teas you can drink to treat the flu and how to prepare them.

You can also drink orange juice, cherry juice or pineapple juice. These juices are rich in vitamin C which is important to strengthen the immune system.

Treating the flu during pregnancy

During pregnancy, it is important to avoid over-the-counter medication from the pharmacy, as they can affect the growth and development of the baby. Therefore, when a pregnant woman has flu symptoms, she should consult her doctor or obstetrician for treatment.

Generally, analgesics composed of acetaminophen and Vitamin C are the only medications that are safe for use during pregnancy. Pregnant women who are sick are also advised to rest, maintain a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids,

In addition, breastfeeding women should also avoid the use of these medications, as they can pass through the breastmilk to the baby. Therefore, breastfeeding women should also consult their doctor about the most important treatment.