Treating a Respiratory Infection

When it comes to treating your respiratory infection, you have two options. These options do not treat your symptoms. However, they do treat the underlying viruses and bacteria that cause the infection. 

Antiviral Medications

Viruses cause most respiratory infections. Unfortunately, very few viral infections are treatable. In essence, you’ll have to treat and manage your symptoms while allowing the virus to run its course. 

Antivirals are a class of medication that works best for treating flu viral infections. Antivirals do not cure the flu. They also do not kill viral infections. However, they shorten the length of your symptoms and reduce the spread of the virus. 

Healthcare providers prescribe one of these antiviral medications to treat respiratory infections.

  • Remdesivir
  • Peramivir 
  • Zanamivir

How Antivirals Work

Viruses replicate and spread further infection. Antivirals stop this process from happening and prevent the viral infection from invading your healthy cells. Antiviral medications also boost your immune system’s ability to protect you against and fight off infections.


Antibiotics are medications used to treat respiratory infections caused by bacteria. An antibiotic medication offers relief from some respiratory symptoms and limits the spread of infection. However, antibiotics do not kill viruses. As a result, healthcare providers do not often prescribe them to treat respiratory infections caused by a virus. Certain antibiotics are preferred options for treating specific respiratory infections. However, in some cases, such as acute laryngitis, antibiotics are not recommended. 

Healthcare providers prescribe one of these antibiotic medications to treat respiratory infections.

  • Pencillin
  • Tetracyclines
  • Macrolides
  • Cephalosporins
  • Lincosamides

How Antibiotics Work

Antibiotics kill the sensitive bacteria that cause infection. As a result, the bacterial infection cannot replicate or cause further infection. In some cases, the bacteria are resistant to drugs, or the medication is ineffective due to overuse or misuse. Healthcare professionals call this crisis antibiotic resistance.