The best means of handling influenza is to prevent getting the infection in the first place, which is accomplished through seasonal influenza vaccination and through actions taken to minimize its spread.
In the 2009-2010 flu season, there were two influenza vaccinations recommended: one that targeted the seasonal flu and one that was specific for the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus. Actions that can be taken to minimize the spread of influenza include hand washing, cleaning potentially contaminated surfaces, coughing and sneezing into tissues, and, when ill, staying home and limiting contact with other people.
Many people who do get influenza have a moderate, self-limited illness and do not require medical treatment. Fluids, bed rest, and over-the-counter pain and fever reducing medications are used to relieve symptoms until the infection resolves.
Antiviral medications are available to treat those who have influenza. They should be started as soon as possible after the emergence of symptoms and can decrease the duration of symptoms and shedding of the virus when administered within the first 48 hours of the start of symptoms. These medications can lessen the severity and duration of the infection. The CDC recommends treatment for those with confirmed or suspected influenza who have severe, complicated, or progressive illness or who are hospitalized, and for those at risk of severe complications. Those at high risk may be sometimes be treated before they become ill (antiviral chemoprophylaxis) if they have been in close contact with some who has influenza.
Those who develop secondary complications, such as bacterial pneumonia, will also require antimicrobial treatment.