“Any cure for flu and colds,” – is a most often request to the pharmacist at the pharmacy. The traditions of self-treatment during the flu epidemic season are recalled by almost half of the population: the majority wants to recover quickly and, preferably, inexpensively. Of course, the best way to choose the right cold and flu drugs is to see a doctor. However, if such a service is unavailable for one reason or another, it is worth knowing that treatment methods exists, what pills for flu one can buy and in what situations they can be used.
Cure for flu and colds: what are the treatment options?
First, do not confuse the “common cold”, which is usually referred to as a respiratory infection of bacterial or viral etiology, with the flu. Influenza, in contrast to acute respiratory infection, and begins, and proceeds differently, and can cause much more serious complications. Although in mild form, both types of the disease are cured with the support of the body with drugs aimed at alleviating the symptoms, regimen and diet without using potent “cold pills” (antibiotics) and influenza (antiviral drugs)
Before you choose a potent and effective tool, you need to understand the forms of disease. Bacterial infections in mild and moderate (not lingering) form do not require the use of antibiotics. Expressed forms of the disease, long-term “colds” must be treated under the supervision of a physician who will prescribe tests for the most likely causative agent of the disease, evaluate the sensitivity of the pathogenic microorganism to different groups of antibiotics based on the results of laboratory tests and select the necessary drug.
Flu, depending on the severity of the clinical picture is divided into three degrees. The most difficult – the third – in most cases requires the use of antiviral drugs depending on the strain of virus that provoked the disease. Also, antiviral drugs can be used in the milder stages of the disease if the patient is at risk (physically weakened due to age, illness, concomitant treatment, etc.). In other cases, the use of potent drugs and pills for colds (antibiotics) and flu is not recommended: side effects may prevail over therapeutic ones.
The medicine for flu and cold in the understanding of medical specialists is a drug with clinically proven efficacy, therefore, biologically active additives, homeopathic remedies are not included in this concept.
Among the drugs used in the treatment of influenza and ARVI with proven effectiveness, there are several groups:
- Vaccines, flu vaccine formulations. The main component of the vaccine may include weakened influenza viruses of different strains or inactivated (“dead”) viruses, causing the human immune system to produce the appropriate antibodies. This group is aimed at preventing morbidity and reducing the likelihood of complications during the development of the disease;
- specific antivirals and broad-spectrum antivirals, therapeutic effect is achieved by neutralizing and suppressing the ability to multiply viruses;
- Immunostimulants with a short-term effect of enhancing the body’s defenses;
- drugs aimed at reducing the severity of symptoms of diseases (chills, headache, hyperthermia, swelling of the mucous membrane, etc.).
Antiviral and immunostimulatory drugs should be treated with caution: the discovery of these groups of drugs occurred not long ago, and data on the long-term effects of drug control with viral load are not yet fully understood. A passion for immunostimulants can lead to such consequences as serious autoimmune reactions and diseases and cancers.
Cold & Flu Vaccine Group
Although directly from the “cold”, ARD, vaccinations do not exist, but there are vaccines that help the body produce antibodies to certain pathogens of respiratory diseases of bacterial origin. Their effectiveness depends on the prevalence of the pathogenic organism and the frequency of contact of the patient with the carrier of the infection.
Flu vaccines are well known and have proven efficacy. This vaccine is not part of the mandatory vaccination group, however, WHO experts and local doctors strongly recommend using the opportunity to protect themselves from the flu in advance.
Today, in the pharmacological market there are mainly inactivated vaccines that do not cause complications after drug administration. Among the most common are the following:
It must be remembered that the composition of vaccines change annually, depending on the results of the forecast of researchers for the coming season. The human body is susceptible to infection with the three most common influenza virus strains: A, B and C. Depending on which strain is most likely to be active in the upcoming cold season, pharmaceutical companies create a vaccine that is suitable only for this time.
In case of a mismatch between the directional action of the vaccine and the strain, infection may occur when it comes into contact with the virus, but the course of the disease even with an “incorrect” vaccination will be much less severe.
Antiviral drugs group
The group of antiviral drugs provides the highest therapeutic efficacy with early initiation of therapy. Influenza is a disease characterized by a bright manifestation, depending on the strain, from the moment of infection until the first symptoms occur, it takes from 2 days to several hours, and the onset of the disease is always clearly felt.
The first symptoms are usually a sharp fever, chills, headaches, “aching” in the joints, muscle pain, a general sudden deterioration of health. At this stage, taking antiviral drugs brings the greatest effect, suppressing the virus and not allowing it to actively reproduce. In the next stages of the disease, in the presence of a large number of viruses in the blood and tissues, the effect of this group of drugs is significantly reduced.
The peculiarity of antiviral drugs is that at the moment there is no universal pill that can cope with all strains of the influenza virus. Medicines for the most common types of virus, A and B, have been developed, but it is impossible to determine the type of infectious agent without appropriate tests.
Among the most accessible and well-known antiviral drugs are the following:
- Remantadine (an analogue of Rimantadine) is the most popular remedy due to its effectiveness and low cost against influenza A virus. Virus A is the most common cause of epidemics of the disease, its increased activity is noted every 2-3 years. Confirmed effectiveness and low number of side effects, while adhering to the rules of admission, caused the highest demand for rimantadine during the epidemiological period. Early treatment of this drug helps to reduce the likelihood of severe complications (bronchitis – 3 times, pneumonia – 6 times). The drug inhibits the activity of the virus, which reduces the severity of symptoms and accelerates recovery. It can be used as a preventive measure during epidemics. The form of release – tablets and syrup for children, the cost of 50 rubles per pack;
- Tamiflu is a drug that became widely known after the bird flu epidemic, and the drug has been on the market since 1996. Effective against the two most common types of influenza virus – A and B. It has an extensive list of contraindications, marked side effects. including symptoms similar to the manifestation of the flu. The cost of 1,300 rubles / pack;
- Ingavirin is a drug with high efficacy against influenza A and B viruses, as well as parainfluenza, adenoviral and some respiratory infections pathogens. The drug has not only antiviral, but also short-term immunomodulatory effects, stimulating the self-production of interferons by the body. Contraindications include hypersensitivity to the components of the drug and a children’s age period (up to 18 years). Price per package – from 440 rubles;
- Kagocel is a complex means of antiviral and immuno-strengthening effect, effective at an early start of treatment (up to 24 hours from the moment of the first symptoms). It is also suitable for emergency prophylaxis in case of contact with a sick flu. With caution used in the presence of allergic reactions to the components of the drug, not recommended for children up to 3 years and pregnant women. Price per package – from 200 rubles.
- Tsitovir 3 is a combined drug of the cyclovir group. It is used as an antiviral and immunostimulating medicine for flu and colds, consisting of thymogen, bendazole and vitamin C, which in combination helps to fight the virus, strengthen the natural immunity and reduce the severity of symptoms of influenza and ARVI. With caution used for hypotension, as the drug can cause a decrease in blood pressure. Contraindicated in children under 1 year old, pregnant, people with diabetes mellitus, gastric ulcer, hypersensitivity to the components. Cost per package – from 330 rubles.
Antiviral drugs of a new generation – Oseltamivir and Zanamivir – have been developed recently. Their purpose is the treatment and prevention of viral infections caused by strains of types A and B. They use drugs as prescribed by a doctor, timely therapy helps to quickly eliminate symptoms such as body hyperthermia (fever), chills, fever, sore throat, joints and muscles pain, general malaise. The drugs are effective in reducing the likelihood of developing complications. Forms of release: the tableted and solution for inhalations. Before use, you should consult with your doctor.
The following drugs are included in the group of interferon drugs:
- Viferon, alpha interferon, produced as a result of genetic engineering. The drug has proven efficacy as a medicine for colds and flu. Available in the form of anal suppositories to facilitate absorption into the body and accelerate the effects in two dosages: for children and adults. It can be used from birth in recommended doses (1 suppository 2 times a day) in the absence of allergic reactions to the components of the drug with a course of therapy up to 5 days. In addition to individual sensitivity to the components of the composition has no other contraindications, does not cause side effects. Price per package, depending on the dosage (for children, for adults) ranges from 300 to 810 rubles;
- Cycloferon, a drug with proven immunomodulating, anti-inflammatory, antiviral properties. The activity of the active substance is based on the initiation of interferon synthesis processes in the patient’s body. It is used in the treatment of influenza, acute respiratory viral infections, viral hepatitis, diseases of the urinary tract of viral and bacterial etiology, chlamydia.
The drug is on the market in the form of ointments, tablets, solution for injection. Contraindicated for use in children under 4 years of age, pregnant women, women during lactation, as well as with increased individual sensitivity to the components in the composition of the drug. The price for a tablet form ranges from 200 to 340 rubles;
- Grippferon (an analogue of Inferon) is a drug created without the use of human blood components. The basis – recombinant interferon alpha-2, used in the treatment of viral infections, including various types of flu, acute respiratory viral infections, etc.
For treatment of influenza and SARS, dosage forms are used in the form of a solution for instillation into the nasal passages. The therapeutic effect is aimed at suppressing the activity of viruses, creating an entrance barrier for infectious agents transmitted by the airborne method, enhancing local immunity. Grippferon and its certified analogues have no contraindications for use, including at an early age and during gestation and lactation. The cost of Grippferon in the form of drops from 270 to 320 rubles;
- Neovir is a new drug, also belonging to the interferon group and used for influenza and other respiratory viral infections, as well as in complex therapy against the herpes virus. Form release – solution for injection. Before use, you should consult with a specialist.
Symptomatic therapy – treatment aimed at reducing the severity of symptoms, manifestations of the disease, due to which the body receives additional strength to combat the pathogen. For this group, influenza and ARVI include analgesic drugs, antipyretics, anti-inflammatory, mucolytic and expectorant drugs, as well as fortifying medicines. Their main purpose is to relieve symptoms: headaches, muscle pain, chills and fever, reduce nasal congestion, improve sputum discharge, etc.
Preparations can be either monocomponent or offered in a complex form. For example, paracetamol is a febrifuge, which also has an anesthetic effect. Multicomponent drugs in the form of powders for mixing with a liquid that are common in recent years, as a rule, combine antipyretic, analgesic, antihistamine (anti-edematous) and general strengthening (in most cases due to ascorbic acid) action, helping to quickly eliminate the symptoms of ARVI and flu.
The most common drugs that have antipyretic and anti-inflammatory effects are:
- acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin) in various forms and with vitamin C supplements;
- Ibuprofen (Nurofen)
- Theraflu, Antigrippin and others.
It is worth noting that if the cost of multi-component, easy-to-use preparations in the form of powders for the preparation of hot beverages with a therapeutic effect is higher than the available bar, you can replace them with one-component preparations by examining the composition. Thus, for example, Paracetamol is used as a febrifuge in Coldrex, which costs substantially less.
One of the basic rules of effective therapy for influenza and acute respiratory viral infections is compliance with the drinking regime. Preparations in drinking form have a higher bioavailability, and also help the form of the drug itself – hot drink. If this form is unavailable, it must be remembered that abundant drinking must necessarily accompany the therapy of any viral respiratory disease.