Home Health Flu, how to treat new symptoms: from antivirals to antibiotics

Flu, how to treat new symptoms: from antivirals to antibiotics

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Flu, how to treat new symptoms: from antivirals to antibiotics

It turned out why colds, influenza and Covid-19 strike more in the winter season. As previously thought, it has nothing to do with the fact that people spend more time indoors in winter, but the cause is precisely the low temperatures: the cold suppresses the first line of the immune defenses that are put in place in the nose, the main way of entry into our body of viruses that infect the airways.

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Influenza, because it affects more in winter

He proved it, by posting the results on The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the research group led by the hospital specializing in eye and ear diseases of the US Harvard Medical School, which worked in collaboration with Northwestern University. The discovery opens up to therapeutic solutions that hide this weak point, such as nasal sprays that strengthen weakened immune defenses.

The nose and the immune response

The nose is one of the first points of contact between the external environment and the inside of our body. A 2018 study, published in the same journal and led by the same institute, had discovered the existence of an immune response triggered by bacteria and viruses entering the nose: the cells in the front part, in fact, detect their presence and release in the mucus billions of tiny fluid-filled sacs (called extracellular vesicles), which surround and attack intruders before they enter the body.


Now the researchers led by Di Huang have shown that this mechanism is influenced by temperature: they have observed, in fact, that a 5 degree decrease in the temperature at which the nasal cells are found weakens the immune response and almost halves the amount of vesicles produced. “The question now is: how can we exploit this phenomenon – asks Mansoor Amiji of Northeastern University, co-author of the study – to protect the nose more, especially in the cold months?”.

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How to cure

Antivirals are tablets, syrups or inhalers used to prevent or treat flu viruses. They are approved for use in adults and children older than one year. In Italy there are four antiviral drugs approved for the treatment of influenza: oseltamivir (Tamiflu®), zanamavir (Relenza®), amantadine and rimantadine. If you are exposed to the virus, antivirals prevent the disease.


Antibiotics are drugs used to treat bacterial infections. They are generally not needed against viral infections such as the flu. However some people may have bacterial infections for which antibiotics are prescribed. A sign of bacterial infection can be severe or prolonged symptoms, or symptoms that first seem to heal but then come back stronger. If you think you need antibiotics, contact your doctor and never take them by your own decision.

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