Flu Treatments Available in the UK: Guide to Managing Flu Symptoms

The flu can be miserable. Body aches, fever, chills, cough, sore throat, headaches – flu symptoms can really knock you down. While there is no cure for the flu, there are treatments available to help relieve symptoms and shorten the duration of illness. This guide covers the main Flu treatment in UK available for managing flu symptoms.

Understanding the Flu

Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a contagious respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses. The most common symptoms include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle aches and headaches
  • Fatigue

Flu viruses spread easily through coughing, sneezing, or touching contaminated surfaces. Flu season in the UK runs from December to March, peaking in January and February. Getting an annual flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu. However, if you do come down with the flu, understanding treatment options can help you feel better faster.

Over-the-Counter Flu Medications

Many flu symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter (OTC) medications available at pharmacies. The most common flu treatment in UK which are used are following:

Pain and Fever Relievers

OTC pain relievers like paracetamol, ibuprofen, or aspirin can help reduce fever, headaches, and muscle aches associated with the flu. Always check labels for appropriate dosing based on your age.


Oral decongestants such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine can provide relief from nasal congestion. Use these cautiously, as they can increase heart rate and blood pressure.

Cough Suppressants

Cough suppressants containing dextromethorphan or pholcodine can calm coughs. Expectorants like guaifenesin help loosen mucus. Read labels carefully and avoid combining different cough medications.


Antihistamines like chlorphenamine or diphenhydramine can reduce runny noses, sneezing, and post-nasal drip. They also have the side effect of causing drowsiness, which could help you get some rest.

Prescription Antiviral Medications

While OTC medications treat flu symptoms, prescription antiviral drugs can actually fight the flu virus and shorten the length of the illness. These include:


Oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu) is most effective if started within 48 hours of symptom onset. It can reduce symptom duration by 1-2 days.


Zanamivir (brand name Relenza) comes as a powder that is inhaled to reduce flu symptoms. It has similar effectiveness as oseltamivir if taken early on.

Antivirals may be prescribed for people at high risk of flu complications, like the elderly, those with weak immune systems, or those with chronic health conditions. Talk to your doctor to see if antiviral medication could be appropriate for your situation.

Getting Plenty of Rest

Along with medications, getting adequate rest is crucial to recovering from the flu. Stay home from work and school until your fever has been gone for 24 hours. Drink plenty of fluids like water, broth, tea, and juice to prevent dehydration. Try over-the-counter flu remedies to relieve aches, pains, coughs, and other symptoms so you can rest as comfortably as possible.

Seeking Medical Care

Most healthy people can recover from the flu at home. However, seek prompt medical attention if you experience any of these more severe symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Confusion or dizziness
  • Severe vomiting, dehydration, or inability to keep fluids down
  • Symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

High risk groups including the very young, elderly, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses should see a doctor if flu symptoms don’t improve after a few days of self-care.

Preventing the Flu

The flu vaccine is the best defense against getting the flu. The NHS offers free flu shots to those at higher risk of complications, including:

  • Adults over age 65
  • Those with long-term health conditions like diabetes or heart disease
  • Pregnant women
  • Children and adults with weakened immune systems

For those who fall outside these risk categories, getting an annual flu shot can still provide protection and is recommended. Good hygiene like washing hands frequently and avoiding contact with those who are sick are also key flu prevention strategies.

While the flu can make you feel miserable, understanding your treatment options can help you get back on your feet faster. With OTC medications, prescription antivirals, plenty of rest, and medical care if symptoms become severe, you can manage flu symptoms effectively. Above all, getting your annual flu shot remains the top way to avoid coming down with the flu in the first place.


The flu can knock you down, but understanding flu treatment UK options helps you get back on your feet faster. Over-the-counter medications can relieve many flu symptoms like fever, headaches, congestion, and coughs. For those at high risk of complications, prescription antivirals like Tamiflu may be recommended to fight the virus. Getting plenty of rest is key, along with staying hydrated. Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or return after improvement. While most healthy people recover from the flu at home within a few days to a week, talk to your doctor if symptoms don’t improve with self-care.

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