Relenza Uses

Relenza is used for treating and preventing influenza A and influenza B viruses. This prescription flu medication can help shorten the duration of symptoms and prevent the flu during outbreaks. It is approved to prevent the flu in children as young as five years old and to treat children as young as seven years old. At this time, there are no off-label Relenza uses.

Relenza Uses: An Overview

Relenza® (zanamivir) is a prescription flu medication. It is approved for use in the following ways:
 
  • Preventing the flu (such as during flu outbreaks)
  • Treating the flu (to help shorten the duration of symptoms).
     
Unlike other flu medications, Relenza is inhaled. This means that it may not be recommended for people who have certain lung diseases (see Relenza Warnings and Precautions for more information).
 
The flu (influenza) is a respiratory infection caused by a variety of flu viruses. The flu differs in several ways from the common cold, which is a respiratory infection that is also caused by viruses. For example, people who have colds rarely get fevers, headaches, or suffer from the extreme exhaustion that the flu viruses can cause. Although nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can accompany flu symptoms, especially in children, gastrointestinal flu symptoms rarely occur. The illness that people call "stomach flu" is not really influenza (the flu).
 
Real flu symptoms include:
 
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Extreme fatigue.
     
Although many people consider the flu to be bothersome (but not dangerous), serious flu complications can occur. For elderly people, newborn babies, and people with certain chronic illnesses, the flu and its complications can be quite dangerous.
 
Relenza can be used to both treat and prevent the flu. Although the best way to prevent the flu is with the flu vaccine, many people cannot or do not get a yearly flu shot. Relenza can provide temporary protection against the flu in unvaccinated people. This is beneficial during an outbreak or if an individual has been exposed to the flu virus, such as from an infected family member. However, the medication does not completely prevent all cases of the flu.
 
Relenza can also be used for flu treatment. When taken within the first 48 hours after flu symptoms start, the drug can significantly shorten the duration of symptoms. The earlier it is started, the better.
 
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD; Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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