For many years antibiotics have been treated as a miracle cure for a lot of infections when all else fails many people rely on this wonder drug to rid their infection fast.

However, it’s this over-reliance on antibiotics that has led to criticism of GPs. A recent study by Public Health England found that 1 in 5 antibiotics are prescribed to patients who don’t need them, often for symptoms of colds and flu.

So, before you go storming ahead and demanding antibiotics from your GP, here’s why they’re not an appropriate treatment for flu and how to fight the flu with natural remedies and flu antiviral medication.

Why don’t antibiotics work for treating flu?


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Taking antibiotics unnecessarily can lead to more serious illnesses and prolong these illnesses, this is why it’s important to know the underlying cause of your illness whether it’s bacterial or viral.

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections that won’t clear up on their own or may lead to more serious complications. Antibiotics cannot kill viruses which is why they don’t work for treating flu as flu is a viral infection.

Viral infections often run their course and clear up on their own, and if you’re taking antibiotics you may experience side effects which will make you feel iller than you should.

If you were counting on taking antibiotics to make you feel better and speed up the healing process we’re sorry to disappoint you. On the brighter side, we do have some tips to relieve the symptoms and shorten the duration of flu.

Ways to Fight the flu yourself

Many people turn straight to medication to cure flu but many natural remedies can effectively treat the symptoms fast.

If you’re usually fit and well there is no need to visit your GP or hospital unless you’re in a high-risk group which includes the elderly, the young, pregnant women and those with existing serious health conditions.

For those of you who are generally fit and well it’s important to avoid spreading the infection to other people, particularly in hospitals. It’s best to stay inside and try some home remedies to fight the nasty symptoms of flu.

The symptoms of flu are more severe than a cold and will usually appear suddenly and leave you unable to function as normal. If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms then you have more than likely contracted influenza.

Flu symptoms include:


  • A fever
  • Aches and pains
  • Exhaustion
  • Sore throat/cough
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Vomiting/diarrhoea


Rest and rest some more

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Flu can last for around 1-2 weeks and it’s important to take this time out to recover. Resting and sleeping as much as you can, enables your body to fight the infection and recover faster.

Keep warm and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids which will help with vomiting and diarrhoea.

Eat and drink well

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You may have heard the old wives tale “feed a cold, starve a fever” which is something many of us have lived by for hundreds of years. However, starving yourself may not be the best way to cure flu. You lose a lot of energy whilst ill so it’s important to keep those energy levels up and get the nutrients you need to help fight the infection.

Loss of appetite means it’s difficult to eat and get enough calories in but certain foods will help with the symptoms.

Try the following foods to give you the nutrients you need, relieve symptoms and prevent dehydration.

  • Broth/chicken soup to keep you hydrated
  • Garlic to enhance immunity
  • Fruit and vegetables to give you nutrients
  • Spices to help with congestion
  • Yoghurts to boost your immune system
  • Honey - honey has healing properties and can help fight infection. It is particularly good for easing a sore throat and cough. It’s also a healthier alternative to sugar, use it to boost your energy levels and make food tastier


Take medication to help with severe symptoms

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Sometimes we all need a helping hand from medicine, particularly when symptoms become unbearable. If natural remedies are not working for you some medications will help to ease the symptoms. Use medication that you already have at home, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen to help with headaches, body aches and pains and to reduce your temperature.

Should I take flu antiviral medication?

Some cases of flu may need the aid of flu antiviral medication to relieve severe symptoms and prevent an outbreak. Although flu antiviral medication does not cure influenza, it helps to shorten the duration by stopping the virus from breeding within the body.

Antiviral medicine is usually only prescribed to those who are at risk of severe complications and those who have been hospitalised with flu. If you’re in any of the high-risk groups as mentioned earlier, flu antiviral medication may be appropriate for you depending on a consultation with a GMC registered doctor.

For those in high-risk groups, influenza can be catastrophic and lead to death so it’s important to prevent contracting this infection with vaccinations and reduce complications of the infection with antiviral medication.

Is flu antiviral medication available to buy?


One of the most common types of flu antiviral medication is Tamiflu which is available to buy providing it has been prescribed by a GP.

Tamiflu contains the active ingredient, Oseltamivir and works by preventing the virus from spreading in the body. It is not used to replace the flu vaccine, but if the flu vaccine has failed to protect against a certain strain and there is a flu epidemic, Tamiflu is then prescribed.

When to take Tamiflu?

If you’re in a high-risk group and have had flu symptoms for less than 48 hours, you have been in close contact with an infected person or there is a flu outbreak in the community, these are the best times to take Tamiflu for it to be effective.

Choose flu antiviral medication over antibiotics to treat flu

The clue is in the name, antiviral medicines are the most effective way to treat viral infections, not antibiotics. The overuse of antibiotics is a modern problem we’re facing. Using antibiotics too often or for the wrong reasons may lead to our bodies becoming resistant to them which means they will be ineffective when treating serious conditions.

If you contract a bout of flu this season remember that antibiotics are not the solution, relieve your symptoms with at-home remedies or if necessary take Tamiflu.

Doctor-4-U allows you to buy Tamiflu from the comfort of your home without having to visit your GP surgery and spreading the infection. Our GMC (General Medical Council) registered doctors are on hand to review your suitability for this medication and prescribe it privately.