Antiviral medications represent a whole separate class of drugs applied for treatment of viral infections. Majority of viral infections can be treated naturally among patients with strong immune system. The key objective of antiviral therapy is to reduce all associated symptoms and infection presence as well as to minimize the duration of sickness and all associated symptoms, as well as reduce symptoms severity. Antiviral meds function through arrest of the viral replication cycle at different stages, which reduces the sickness duration and weakens the virus itself.
Nowadays, antiviral therapy is offered to cure only a limited list of infections. Majority of the antiviral drugs offered at the moment, are utilized for treatment of infections resulted from HIV, hepatitis B and C viruses, herpes viruses, as well as influenza A and B viruses. Since viruses exist in a form of intracellular parasites, it is challenging to identify medical solutions that would be able to restrict viral replication without causing any harm to the host cells. In comparison to antimicrobial drugs, antiviral medications are not able to deactivate or terminate the microbes (i.e. viruses), but rather perform inhibition of viral replications. In such manner they stop the increase of the viral load to a certain degree where it could result in pathogenesis, allowing the immune system of human body to neutralize the viral infection.
Antiviral medications can be prescribed for both treatment as well as prevention of flu. The currently developed antiviral meds are able to cure 3 major virus groups: hepatitis, herpes, as well as influenza. All anti-herpes drugs function via inhibition of viral replications, acting as substrates for viral DNA polymerase (except for antisense molecule fomivirsen). Influenza treatment drugs tend to generate inhibition of the enzyme neuraminidase or the ion channel M2 protein. When it comes to treatment of chronic hepatitis C, then the most effective treatment is the combination therapy with ribavirin and Interferon-α. Patients suffering from hepatitis C virus genotype 1 are usually prescribed with similar therapy, but with addition of serine protease inhibitors. Chronic hepatitis B patients are generally treated with interferon or alternatively with a combination of nucleoside analogues.
When it comes to flu antiviral meds, it is crucial that the treatment begins as soon as possible. This approach is applicable to hospitalized flu patients, patients who have severe flu but do not require to be hospitalized, as well as patients under high risk of severe complications from flu due to age or health conditions. Even though a certain group of people suffering from mild illnesses, but do not belong to a high-risk group of flu complications, may also require treatment with antiviral drugs at early stage, the majority of patients who are quite healthy and have flu do not require any treatment with antiviral drugs.
Antiviral drugs show best performance if taken during 48 hours after first flu symptoms are observed. Nevertheless, antiviral drugs can still show benefits if administered after that period as well. With help of these medications, the duration of flu can be reduced by 1-2 days and severe flu complications can be prevented (e.g. ear infections among children, respiratory complications that require treatment with antibiotics, hospitalization of adults and others). People under high risk of severe flu complications, if treated with antiviral medications, can have a milder illness and avoid potential hospitalization. Adults patients who were hospitalized with flu sickness and underwent an early antiviral treatment therapy, based on a number of studies, have shown a reduction in death risks.
Antiviral drug treatment duration may vary based on the particular type of prescribed antiviral drug. Zanamivir and Oseltamivir are generally prescribed for administration 2 times a day for a 5-days course, even though the antiviral treatment duration may be longer for specific cases. Peramivir is administered once a day intravenously during a 15-30 minutes period. Baloxavir on the other hand is administered orally as a single dose.
Side effects caused by antiviral drugs generally vary depending on each medication. The most commonly observed side effects of oseltamivir include vomiting and nausea. Zanamivir can result in bronchospasm, whereby peramivir can lead to diarrhoea. Hereby, it is very important to consult with healthcare specialist to obtain more information regarding those medications or refer to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has all the specific information regarding antiviral meds, as well as the manufacturer’s package leaflet.
Prescription of Antiviral Drugs to pregnant women and children should be decided by the qualified healthcare specialist and should be carried out under close monitoring and supervision to attain most desirable results, while avoiding any possible unwanted effects.