treatment of uncomplicated influenza

Last edited 02/2022 and last reviewed 02/2022

In most patients influenza is a self-limiting disease. All patients who present with suspected influenza should be given both general advice and advice on symptomatic treatment (1):

  • treatment of fever, myalgias and headache with paracetamol or ibuprofen (aspirin is contraindicated in children aged under 16 years)
  • taking plenty of fluids
  • rest
  • avoiding smoking
  • consider short course of topical decongestants, throat lozenges, saline nose drops (1)

Patients should be advised to stay at home and keep away from people who might be particularly vulnerable to influenza.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that zanamivir and oseltamivir should be used for the treatment of certain at risk groups (see linked item) (2).

Complications require specific management and antibiotics are used for secondary bacterial infections (2).


  1. British Infection Society; British Thoracic Society; Health Protection Agency. Pandemic flu: clinical management of patients with an influenza-like illness during an influenza pandemic. Provisional guidelines from the British Infection Society, British Thoracic Society, and Health Protection Agency in collaboration with the Department of Health. Thorax. 2007;62 Suppl 1:1-46.  
  2. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) 2009. Amantadine, oseltamivir and zanamivir for the treatment of influenza (review of NICE technology appraisal guidance 58)