How can influenza be treated?

Most people with influenza who are otherwise healthy do not need special drugs or treatments. If you have influenza, you should:

  • Rest
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Eat a light diet
  • Stay at home
  • Take acetaminophen (such as Tylenol®) to reduce fever and relieve muscle aches

Note: Adults should not give aspirin to children or adolescents with fevers.

Are there medicines for bad cases of influenza?

If you are seriously ill, your health care provider might order an antiviral drug for you. Antiviral drugs for influenza include:

  • Oseltamivir phosphate (Tamiflu), which is approved to treat influenza in patients who are two weeks of age and older who have had the flu for fewer than two days. It is also approved for the prevention of flu in patients who are one year of age and older.
  • Zanamivir (Relenza) is approved for treatment of flu in patients seven years old and older, and for prevention of flu in patients who are five and older.

Infections from bacteria are more likely when you have influenza. Healthcare providers treat these bacterial infections with antibiotic drugs. Common secondary infections include:

  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Ear infections
  • Sinus infections

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/26/2016.


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seasonal Influenza (Flu). Accessed 10/26/2016.
  • US Department of Health & Human Services. Accessed 10/26/2016.
  • National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Disease. Flu (Influenza). Accessed 10/26/2016.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy