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Flu medications: which ones are best?

This acute viral illness has symptoms of mild or moderate intensity. Protect yourself and learn which are the best medicines for the flu.

It is in the cold months that the flu attacks and, in addition to taking flu medicationsit is important to adopt other special precautions – namely avoiding colder places and large temperature differences.

Flu medications: which ones are best?

The “Lady” Flu

Influenza is a seasonal, acute and extremely contagious viral illness. Despite being benign, seasonal flu is a public health problem, given its high impact, particularly with regard to the overcrowding of health services (with greater use of emergency services and a greater number of hospital admissions) and school absenteeism. and labor.

Studies believe that this disease annually affects 10% to 15% of the world’s population.

Mainly for the so-called “risk groups”, the flu is responsible for an excess of morbidity and mortality among people aged 65 or over, chronically ill and immunosuppressed people, among others.

In the northern hemisphere, where Portugal is located, seasonal flu usually occurs between the months of December and March, lasting about 10 to 22 weeks.

Flu symptoms usually last for about a week and start abruptly. The most common effects are headache, fever, symptoms associated with the respiratory tract (cough), sore throat and nasal congestion. Especially in children, vomiting and diarrhea are possible.

To combat this disease, it is common to resort to the consumption of medicines for the flu, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, analgesics and antipyretics, fluidizers and antitussives.

However, it is important to know how to distinguish between all these options and choose the most suitable alternative for your clinical condition.

flu medications

When we talk about treating the flu, we are basically referring to the relief of the symptoms listed above. The selection of drugs to be administered depends, of course, on the type and severity of the symptoms presented by the patient.

Analgesics, antipyretics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Analgesics and antipyretics are indicated for the relief of mild pain and fever. The most common example is paracetamol.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are also recommended for the relief of mild pain and fever, and also have an anti-inflammatory function. The most common example is ibuprofen.

nasal decongestants

Nasal decongestants help to reduce edema in the nasal mucosa. They are applied directly to the nasal passages, reducing, for example, the sensation of a stuffy nose.


Being sometimes prescribed, these medicines are intended to reduce the symptoms of allergy, associated with flu conditions.

Antitussives and expectorants

For the relief of non-productive cough (dry cough) central action antitussives are recommended. For the relief of productive cough (cough with mucus or phlegm), drugs with expectorant or mucolytic agents are used.


Although they can also have a preventive action, antivirals treat the flu and are advised in more specific cases.

Non-prescription medicines

In addition to those already indicated, there are still other medicines that, not requiring a medical prescription, can help to ward off some flu symptoms, such as lozenges for sore throat or saline solution for washing the nasal passages. Ask your family doctor or pharmacist about the options available.

Flu medications to avoid

There are also flu medications that you should avoid. In this case, we refer to anti-flu. They have several active substances such as antihistamines, decongestants, paracetamol or acetylsalicylic acid, vitamin C and caffeine.

This, among other characteristics, makes them drugs that are not recommended, although they are widely consumed, as they do not require a prescription. Pay attention now to some of its drawbacks:

  • as they have several active principles, the risk of causing adverse effects is greater;
  • they are not more effective than other medicines;
  • may include a substance contraindicated for the patient;
  • there is a risk of overdose if you combine the anti-flu with another drug with the same active ingredient;
  • the patient may be ingesting substances that are unnecessary for the symptoms of his clinical condition;
  • the dose of certain substances is lower than recommended, so taking them has no effect;
  • there are substances used, the effectiveness of which has not been proven;

Conclusion: the suggestion is that you always seek advice from your doctor and take medications specifically indicated for each symptom you have.

Doctor vaccinating patient
Influenza prevention must focus on the most vulnerable groups

Other important recommendations

In addition to taking the flu medication prescribed by your doctor, you should take some important measures:

  • use saline solution, “sea water” or inhale vapors in order to unclog the airways;
  • resort to lozenges, sweets and elixirs to gargle in order to relieve sore throats;
  • drink plenty of water or tea, at warm temperatures, to alleviate sore throats and coughs, in addition to ensuring proper hydration of the body;
  • prevent transmission of the virus by limiting contact with other people; frequently washing hands with soap and water; using tissues and disposing of them immediately; cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing;
  • contact SNS24 (808 24 24 24), before going to any other health service.

flu vaccine

Of course, we couldn’t talk about medicines for the flu, not to mention its main form of prevention: the flu shot.

Check out the groups of the population that are in the first line of vaccination:

  • citizens aged 65 or over;
  • people residing or hospitalized in institutions;
  • children and adolescents with chronic illnesses who remain in institutions;
  • patients integrated in the continuous care network, patients awaiting transplants or undergoing chemotherapy;
  • people supported at home by the Home Support Services with a cooperation agreement with the Social Security or Portuguese Misericórdias and by the nursing teams of the functional units providing health care or with home support from the hospitals;
  • patients hospitalized in health units belonging to the Group of Health Centers or in hospitals belonging to the National Health Service who have chronic pathologies and conditions for which the vaccine is recommended;
  • health professionals from the National Health Service;
  • prison guards and inmates;
  • patients with trisomy 21, diabetes mellitus, cystic fibrosis, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficit under replacement therapy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pathology of the pulmonary interstitium under immunosuppressive therapy, chronic disease with compromised respiratory function, secretion elimination or at risk increased aspiration of secretions;
  • people on dialysis;
  • firefighters.

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