Prescribe antiviral drugs, not antibiotics for flu: DAK to doctors

Srinagar : With surge in number of flu cases in Kashmir valley, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Wednesday advised doctors to prescribe antiviral drugs for flu patients.

“Doctors should prescribe antiviral medication to flu patients as early as possible and should not wait for the lab test results as delay could be fatal,” said DAK President and flu expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.

Dr Hassan said antivirals work best for treatment when they are started within 48 hours of onset of illness.

“However, starting them later can still be helpful,” he said.

The DAK President said antiviral treatment is recommended for any patient with confirmed or suspected flu who is hospitalized or has severe progressive illness or is at higher risk for developing flu-related complications. People at high risk for complications include children, elderly, pregnant women and those with underlying medical conditions.

Antivirals can also be considered on the basis of clinical judgment for those who do not have risk for severe illness.

“Currently, oseltamivir is the most effective antiviral drug for all circulating flu viruses which includes H3N2, H1N1and influenza B viruses,” he said adding “the drug can be safely given to pregnant women and infants aged 2 weeks and older.”

Dr Nisar said despite antiviral medicines offer life-saving benefits to flu patients, they are unfortunately under prescribed.

Clinicians continue to dole out unnecessary antibiotics for flu patients, even though antibiotics do not have activity against viruses.

You go to a doctor with runny nose, sore throat or cough, you will walk away with a prescription for antibiotics.

People who come down with flu are asking their doctors for antibiotics. They have a misconception that antibiotics help to get over flu more quickly.

“Antibiotics for flu are not only inappropriate but also put patients at risk for antibiotic-resistant infections,” he said.

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