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Anti Viral

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Anti Viral

Viruses are the smallest infectious agent consisting of nucleic acids like RNA or DNA enclosed in a protein coat or capsid. They are too small to be seen with a standard light microscope. It is an obligate parasite, which means they penetrate the host cells and program the cell to assemble new virus particles. They are also sometimes called hijackers; they invade the normal living cell and use those cells to multiply and produce more viruses like themselves. The pathogenic viruses may infect the body through various routes such as respiratory tract, ingestion, insect and animal bites, and finally, transmitted through sexual activities.

There are prescription medicines called antiviral drugs that can be given to treat viral infections and flu illnesses. The treatment recommends people who have flu or suspected flu and are more likely to get serious flu complications such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines available in pills, liquid, inhaled powder, or intravenous solutions that fight off the viruses in the body. Antiviral medications are different from antibiotics, which fight against bacterial infections. Check with your doctor if you develop flu symptoms. Symptoms include runny or stuffy nose, fever, sore throat, body aches, chills, and fatigue. These antiviral medications work best when started soon after flu illness begins. They can lessen fever and other flu symptoms and shorten your sick time by about one day. Antivirals also cause a significant reduction in the risk of serious flu complications. Early treatment can mean a milder illness instead of a more severe illness that may require hospitalization. According to experts, flu antiviral drugs work best when they start within two days of getting sick. However, starting treatment can still be beneficial, especially if the sick person is at increased risk of developing serious flu complications or getting hospitalized with more severe illnesses. Follow instructions for taking these antiviral drugs. 

Viral infection and its symptoms:

Viral infections are caused due to the presence of a virus particle inside the host body. The word virus itself is taken from Latin, meaning toxin or poison.

With a viral infection, we usually associate high and long-lasting fever, but some other symptoms can also be noticed like:

• Fatigue

• Headache

• Sneezing

Depending on the virus:

• Coughing

• Diarrheal

• Abdomen pain

• Sore throat

• Rashes

Transmission of the viral particles:

There are various routes of transmitting the virus into the body, but the most common is through droplet contact when someone sneezes or coughs. The virus remains suspended in the droplets and may enter the respiratory tract. There are a variety of other modes also:

 • Fecal-oral: due to improper washing of hands leading to spread of disease.

 • Vector-borne or direct contact includes touching common objects like a telephone booth.

 • Sexual contact: One of the most common modes of transmission of viral infection.

 • Blood transfusion: By use of shared needles/syringes

 • Saliva

 • Breast milk

 • Bodily fluids

Common diseases caused by a virus:

 • Common Cold: It’s the most common illness known worldwide. The usual signs are stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, and sneezing. It can be easily recognized as the condition is so ordinary. Common cold targets the upper respiratory tract. The viruses that cause the common cold can spread from person to person or from one surface to another

Influenza virus: also called flu, is a respiratory infection caused by several flu viruses. The flu and cold symptoms are usually the same, but a few differences like high temperature and extreme body aches associated with flu separate them.

Chickenpox: It is a highly contagious disease. The major symptoms are rashes blisters that break open. The disease is often accompanied by high fever, fatigue and loss of appetite.

HPV: Human Papilloma Virus, this causes warts of all types. This virus is transmitted through sexual contact in males and females. The percentage is so high that 50% of men and women get it at some point in their life. It is also involved in causing cervical cancer.

Other diseases like Herpes, AIDS, Meningitis, Measles, Mumps, Polio, and Rabies are all caused due to viruses.

Diagnosis: Generally, the history of severe muscle and joint pain before fever and the presence of skin rashes and lymph gland swelling helps the physician to determine the presence of viral infection. The various laboratory tests clarify whether the symptoms are due to a virus or a bacterial infection. These tests include:


 • Hemagglutination assay

 • Cell culture

 • Antibody detection

 • Nucleic acid detection

 • Visual inspection

 • Histology (post-mortem)


Viruses have a self-limited life, so the treatment is usually done to reduce the symptoms. Anti-pyretic and analgesic drugs are commonly used. Antiviral drugs are a class of medication used specifically for treating viral infections. They are used to ease symptoms and shorten how long you are sick with viral infections. To get an idea, you can have a look at the disease and the treatment given for that disease below:







Adefovir, Lamivudine















Amantadine, Ribavirin



Ribavirin (Aerosol)


Chicken Pox

Acyclovir, valacyclovir



Cidofovir, Gancyclovir


These antiviral drugs do not directly destroy the virus but work by preventing the infection process. Your treatment may differ from the one mentioned on this category page.

Precautions and Preventions:

The following points must be kept in mind to keep oneself away from the viral infection and also avoid the spreading of the disease:

 • One should try covering the mouth when coughing/sneezing with a cloth or hands.

 • Proper washing of hands after touching a publically used object

 • Avoiding close contact with the sick person may help you stay away from the infection.

 • Avoiding contaminated food/water.

 • Improved sanitation

 • Avoiding shared needles/syringes for blood transfusion or drug delivery.

 • Practising safe sex can help avoid STDs.

What are Antivirals?

Antiviral agents are drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating or controlling viral infections. Most antiviral agents target stages in the viral life cycle. They help the body to fight off harmful viruses. These drugs provide symptomatic relief and shorten the length of a viral infection. They also lower the risk of spreading viruses that contributes to herpes and HIV.

Are antiviral medications safe?

Antiviral agents are relatively safe. Children, infants, and pregnant and breastfeeding women can take certain antiviral medications under the supervision of a doctor. Guidelines for who should not take these drugs vary depending on the type of drug. Furthermore, if you take too much or more than the prescribed amount, you could have dangerous drug levels in your body.

How do Antiviral medications work?

Drugs that combat viral infections are termed antivirals. They aim to minimize the symptoms of an infection and shorten its cycle. They are also effective at reducing the transmission of a virus. Antiviral agents suppress the virus’s ability to infect and multiply the cells. These drugs inhibit the molecular interaction and functions the virus needs to make copies of itself.

Can antiviral medicines cure viral infections?

No, antiviral agents can’t eliminate the virus, which remains in the body. However, antiviral agents can make the virus inactive; therefore, symptoms that develop while you take antiviral agents may be less severe or resolve faster. These drugs help to ease symptoms and shorten how long you are sick with a viral infection like a cold or flu. Viral infections like herpes, HIV, and hepatitis are chronic, hence require more intense treatment.

How long do you need to take antiviral drugs?

As per CDC recommendations, for the treatment of flu, oseltamivir or inhaled are usually given for five days or one dose of boloxavir for one day. Oseltamivir is generally prescribed to hospitalized patients, and some patients may need it for more than five days. Treatment duration usually depends on the symptoms and condition of a patient. It is always to use an antiviral agent under the supervision of a doctor.

What’s the difference between antibiotics and antivirals?

Antivirals and antibiotics are two different prescription drug classes, but they are not all the same. Antiviral agents treat infections caused by viruses, whereas antibiotics are effective against infections caused by bacteria. They are not interchangeable.

Are there any side effects of antivirals?

Yes, like any other medicine, antivirals too can cause side effects. The side effects usually vary by the antiviral medicines and from person to person. However, the common adverse reactions include nausea, headache, and abdominal pain.

What are Oral Antivirals?

Oral antivirals are taken orally with water. They help the body to fight off viruses that cause the disease. Getting an oral antiviral medicine means that you will be taking pills. You should take the oral drug as prescribed by your doctor. Do not make dose adjustments without your doctor’s approval.