Antiviral drugs are used to treat viral infections, like flu, in your body. These drugs differ from antibiotics, because they don’t fight bacteria. The main action is aimed to kill the virus that causes the disease.
Antiviral medicines are divided into 4 basic groups:
- interferon-containing medicines;
- antiviral drugs of direct action (etiotropic).
Vaccination is a preventive action, aimed to develop resistance to the virus in the body. A vaccine is an injection of a substance, that contains some amount of weakened viruses in it. With this, the immune system gets basic information about the virus. The body «learns» to fight this virus, and when the actual infection enters the body, it doesn’t spread, because the body quickly kills it.
Medicines with interferon
Interferon is a specific substance, that is released by immune cells to fight viruses. As a rule, interferon in antiviral drugs is produced artificially, with the use of certain bacteria. In case of flu, the virus blocks the production of interferon in the body, which leads to interferon deficiency. The medical drugs are aimed to replenish insufficient interferon in the body.
Any virus that penetrates the body, faces its protective forces – immune system. The human immunity is divided into two types: specific and nonspecific. Specific immunity is developed to fight a specific type of infectious agents (for example, when vaccination was made). Nonspecific immunity has a universal effect and protects the body from any type of infection. Antiviral drugs are aimed to enhance nonspecific immunity.
Unlike interferon-containing drugs, immunostimulants do not combat the viruses, but they stimulate the production of natural interferon by the human immune system. This type of medicine is highly effective in the fight against viruses. However, its uncontrolled and excessive use may interrupt the natural function of the immunity.
Antiviral drugs of direct action (etiotropic)
These drugs have nothing to do with the immune system. Once they get into the body they start to attack the virus directly. They slow down virus replication and its spreading in the body. The strongest antiviral drugs of direct action are neuramidase inhibitors. They are recommended for use in severe cases only. Light forms of flu can be treated with lighter methods. Taking neuramidase inhibitors should be carefully considered, since together with strong healing action neuramidase inhibitors have a number of serious side effects.