Antiviral Medications for Treating Viral Infections

Most viral infections resolve on their own, however, some infections may need treatment. This is when anti-viral medications are required. The research involving viral infection is widely published in scientific journals during last 30 years. The major success of research outcome is in the treatment of HIV infection. The anti HIV medications have successfully prevented the development of life threatening AIDS. The broad spectrum antiviral medications work against a wide range of viruses. The medication prevents and inhibits the multiplication of viruses and spread.

The antiviral medications and treatment, when prescribed during early stages can prevent aggressive spread of the virus and prevent complications like liver damage (cirrhosis), hepatitis B, hepatocellular carcinoma, pneumonia, encephalitis and endocarditis. Viruses start multiplying immediately after entering the endothelial cells of oral cavity, gastrointestinal and respiratory system. The virus particles are then released in blood stream and surrounding tissue. The viruses next infiltrate into surrounding or distant healthy cells. The cycle is repeated. Viruses in few cases build resistant to destruction by white blood cells and antiviral medications. These viruses change their genetic presentation by frequent mutation, which has caused difficulties in development of most effective vaccine as well as antiviral medications.

Antiviral Medications for Treating Viral Infections

Antiviral Medications for Treating Viral Infections

Viral infection causes headache, fever and body ache as well as symptoms of upper respiratory tract gastrointestinal infection. The symptoms of upper respiratory tract viral infections are running nose, blocked nose resulting in breathing difficulties and cough.

Similarly, gastrointestinal infection causes symptoms like nausea and vomiting. Most of viral infection causes symptoms of headache secondary to fever. In few cases, complication of viral infection resulting in meningitis and encephalitis also causes severe headache.

Here are some antiviral medications and treatment commonly used to treat viral infections.

  1. Antiviral Medications Used for Treating Symptoms of Viral Infections-

    1. For Headache

      Viral infection symptom like headache is treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Tylenol and Motrin, which is prescribed as pills, syrup, suppositories or injection.

    2. Fever

      Symptom of fever in viral infection is also treated with NSAIDS. Tylenol is most often used. The medications are prescribed as pills or syrups.

    3. Cough

      Cough caused by viral infection is treated with expectorant or cough suppressant. Expectorants are used when cough is triggered by increased secretion of mucosa by respiratory mucosal cells. Expectorant makes mucosal secretion softer and easy to expel from respiratory system during episode of coughing. Cough suppressants are used when cough is caused by irritation of throat (pharynx), larynx and trachea.

      • Cough Expectorant- The expectorants prescribed as pills or syrup are acetylcysteine and guaifenesin.
      • Cough Suppressants- Codeine, dextromethorphan, noscapine and butamirate are prescribed as pills or syrup. Dexamethorphan is often not effective in children.
    4. Treatment of Nasal Block and Discharge (Running Nose) in Viral Infection

      The antiviral medication and treatment for nasal block and discharge include:

      • Antihistamine- The viral infection increases histamine release within inflamed nasal mucosal cells. Histamine stimulates mucosal cells to secrete higher volume of mucosal secretion resulting in continuous nasal discharge. The irritation of nasal mucosa causes running nose, sneezing and itching. The antihistamines prescribed for nasal discharge are diphenhydramine and doxylamine. Anti-histamines are prescribed as a pills, syrup or injection.
      • Decongestant- The nasal discharge or running nose causes nasal irritation and difficulty to breath and sneezing. The symptoms such as difficulty to breathe is caused by swelling of nasal mucosa followed by obstruction of nasal passage. The decongestant helps to relieve the difficulty breathing by reducing the swelling of nasal mucosa. The decongestant prescribed are oxymetazoline as a nasal drop (Afrin), phenylephrine as a pills or nasal drops (sudafed) and pseudoephedrine as pills or nasal drops (silfedrine).
    5. Treatment for Viral Infection Symptoms like Muscle and Body Pain

      Aches and pain in muscles and joint are often treated with rest and Tylenol. Severe pain may need prescription of NSAIDs. The medications are prescribed as pills or syrups. NSAIDs if prescribed for prolonged period cause stomach ulcers resulting in abdominal pain and bleeding.

  2. Antiviral Vaccine to Prevent Viral Infections

    Epidemics of viral infection are prevented by yearly vaccination. The elderly and immune suppressed individuals are often advised to receive yearly vaccination. There are three types of vaccines.

    • Attenuated Vaccine- The viruses are live and weakened by treatment with chemicals. The inactive virus stimulates the immune system resulting in increased secretion of antibodies as well as improves the antiviral activities of white blood cells.
    • Inactivated Vaccine- The inactivated viruses are dead and non-functioning viruses. The protein molecules of viruses stimulate the immune system to form antibodies. The antibodies create resistance to any infection by similar viruses.
    • Subunit Vaccine- The subunit vaccine is an antiviral protein produced by infected individual. The subunit proteins are removed from infected individual. The genetic research suggests the subunit proteins can be produce in lab by genetic mutation. Subunit protein has less side effects and does not cause secondary infection.
  3. List of Antiviral Medications for Treating Viral Infections

    There are over 70 antiviral medications available either for treatment or lab studies. The alphabetical list of most of these antiviral medications are as follows-

    Alphabetical List of Antiviral Medications

    1. Abcavir, Acyclovir, Adefovir, Amantadine, Amprenavir, Arbidol, Atazanvir, and Atripia.
    2. Belavir
    3. Citofovir and Combivir.
    4. Dolutegavir, Darunavir, Delavirdine, Didanosine and Docosanol
    5. Edozudine, Emtricitabine, Enfluvirtide and Entavir
    6. Femaciclovir, Fosamprenavir, Fosacarnet and Fusion inhibitor
    7. Gancoclovir
    8. Ibacitabine, Ioxuridine, Indinavir, Inosine, Integrase inhibitor and Interferone
    9. Lopinavir and Loviride
    10. Maraviroc and Methisazone
    11. Nelfinavir, Nitrazaxanide and Novir
    12. Oseltamivir
    13. Peginteferon, Peramivir, Protease inhibitor and Pleconaril
    14. Raltagravir, Ribavirin, Ritonavir and Rimantadine
    15. Saquinavir, Sofosbuvir and Stavudine
    16. Tenofovir, Tipranavir, Trifluridine, Tromatadine and Truvada
    17. Velaciclovir (Valtrex), Velganciclovir, Vidarabine and Viramidine
    18. Zalcitabine, Zenamvir and Zidovudine
  4. Antiviral Medication for Treating Influenza Infection


    Anti-influenza antiviral medications are prescribed for severe symptoms, which are not responding to conservative treatment. The antiviral medications are also prescribed as a preventive medication to children and elderly individuals in endemic or epidemic area. Prescription for ten days is recommended if individual is suffering with severe infection.

    Antiviral medications such as amantadine and rimanatadine (flumadine) are recommended as a prophylactic medication for elderly patient, pregnant female, individual suffering with immune deficiency patient, severe heart and lung disease. Prophylactic antiviral medication is also advised to people living in crowded area such as slums, nursing homes and dorms. Medications are often recommended when flu epidemics are observed and vaccination is either delayed or not available. The vaccine provides better resistance for infection than prophylactic antiviral medications.

    Antiviral medications recommended for influenza infection-

    • Amantidine (Symmetrel)
    • Rimanatadine (Flumadine)
    • Oseltamvir (Tamiflu)
    • Peramivir (Rapivab)
    • Zanamivir (Relenza)
  5. Antiviral Medications for Treating HIV Infection-

    Human immunodeficiency viral infection (HIV) is caused by HIV virus and if not treated during the phase of infection often results in autoimmune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Individual suffering with HIV infection may have to take antiviral medications for several years or entire life.

    Following anti-viral medications are recommended.

    • Abacavir, or ABC (Ziagen)
    • Didanosine (Videx)
    • Emtricitabine, or FTC (Emtriva)
    • Lamivudine, or 3TC (Epivir)
    • Stavudine, or d4T (Zerit)
    • Tenofovir, or TDF (Viread)
    • Zidovudine, or AZT or ZDV (Retrovir)
  6. Antiherpetic Antiviral Medications to Treat Herpetic Virus

    Herpetic virus causes shingles also known as herpetic neuralgia. The chicken pox virus stays inactive in spinal cord and become active when individuals suffer with immune deficiency syndrome. Virus attacks the nerve cells (neurons) in spinal cord, which results in severe pain along the nerve. The list of antiherpetic antiviral medications used are as follows-

    • Acyclovir (Zovirax),
    • Brivudine (Helpine),
    • Ducosanol (Abreva),
    • Famiclovir (Famvir),
    • Fosarnet (Floscavir),
    • Idoxuridine (Herplex),
    • Penciclovir (Denavir)
    • Trifluridine (viropic)
    • Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
  7. Antihepatitis Medications for Viral Hepatitis

    Most viral hepatitis is treated with conservative and symptomatic treatment. Antiviral medications are used for hepatitis B and C hepatitis.


    Following antiviral medications are prescribed for patient suffering with hepatitis B

    • Entecavir
    • Tenofovir
    • Adefovir
    • Lamivudine,
    • Telbivudine

    Hepatitis C

    Hepatitis C is treated with following antiviral medications. Few cases may resist antiviral therapy, which are treated with combination of two or three antiviral medications.

    • Peginteferone alfa
    • Boceprevir
    • Telaprevir
    • Ribavirin
  8. Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection

    • Virazole

Route of Administration of Antiviral Medication

Almost all antiviral medications are administered as a pills. Zanamvir is prescribed as inhalation powder. Acyclovir and Roferon-A are prescribed as an injection. The viral infection is self-limiting and in most cases do not cause any complications. Yet it is important to consult a specialist or primary care physician so as to evaluate the seriousness of the disease and avoid complications. It is necessary to consult your physician immediately following symptoms such as fever or cough is observed. The most appropriate treatment of viral infection and the anti-viral medication and treatment can be planned by the physician only.

Also Read:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 27, 2017

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