Availability of Antiviral Drugs Over the Counter (OTC) – A Look at Symmetrel

Symmetrel: An Antiviral Medication for Influenza A Virus Infections

Symmetrel is a highly effective antiviral medication that is commonly prescribed to prevent and treat influenza A virus infections. Its active ingredient, amantadine, works by interfering with the replication of the influenza virus. In addition to its antiviral properties, Symmetrel is also used to treat Parkinson’s disease and certain movement disorders caused by the side effects of other drugs.

How Symmetrel Works

Amantadine, the active ingredient in Symmetrel, works by blocking a protein called M2 ion channel, which is needed for the influenza virus to replicate. By inhibiting this protein, Symmetrel prevents the virus from multiplying and spreading within the body. This effectively reduces the severity and duration of influenza A infections.

Usage and Dosage of Symmetrel

Symmetrel is available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, and syrup. The dosage and duration of treatment depend on the specific condition being treated and the individual’s response to the medication. It is important to follow the instructions provided by the healthcare professional and not exceed the recommended dosage.

Possible Side Effects of Symmetrel

Like any medication, Symmetrel may cause certain side effects. Common side effects include dizziness, nausea, dry mouth, constipation, and blurred vision. These side effects are usually mild and temporary. Rare, but more serious side effects may include hallucinations, difficulty breathing, and irregular heartbeat. If any severe or persistent side effects occur, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

Precautions and Interactions

Prior to taking Symmetrel, it is important to inform the healthcare professional about any existing medical conditions, allergies, or medications being taken. Symmetrel may interact with certain medications, such as anticholinergic drugs and medications that affect kidney function. It is important to discuss all potential interactions with the healthcare professional to ensure the safe and effective use of Symmetrel.


Symmetrel is a trusted and widely prescribed medication for the prevention and treatment of influenza A virus infections. Its active ingredient, amantadine, effectively interferes with the replication of the influenza virus, reducing the severity and duration of the infection. It is important to use Symmetrel as directed by a healthcare professional and be aware of any potential side effects or interactions with other medications. By taking appropriate precautions and following the recommended dosage, Symmetrel can provide relief and help manage influenza A infections effectively.

Availability of Antiviral Drugs Over the Counter (OTC)

Over the counter (OTC) medications are commonly used for self-treatment of various conditions without needing a prescription from a healthcare professional. However, when it comes to antiviral drugs, the availability of OTC options is limited.

Currently, there are only a few antiviral drugs available over the counter, and they are primarily used for the treatment of cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus. These OTC antiviral medications contain active ingredients such as docosanol or benzyl alcohol, which work by inhibiting the growth and spread of the virus.

Abreva is a popular OTC antiviral cream used to treat cold sores. It is available in most pharmacies and can be purchased without a prescription. Clinical studies have shown that Abreva can help shorten the duration of a cold sore outbreak when used as directed.

Zovirax is another OTC antiviral cream that is used for the treatment of cold sores. It contains the active ingredient acyclovir, which helps to stop the replication of the herpes virus. Zovirax is widely available and can be found in many drugstores.

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While there are OTC options for the treatment of cold sores, it is important to note that antiviral medications for other conditions, such as influenza, require a prescription. This is because the use of these medications should be carefully monitored by a healthcare professional to ensure proper dosage and to prevent potential drug interactions or misuse.

It is recommended that individuals consult with a healthcare provider if they suspect or have been diagnosed with a viral infection that may require antiviral treatment. A healthcare provider can provide a proper diagnosis and prescribe the appropriate antiviral medication if deemed necessary.

It is worth noting that the availability of OTC antiviral drugs may vary by country and regulations. Therefore, it is important to check with local healthcare authorities or reputable sources for up-to-date information on the availability and regulations surrounding OTC antiviral medications.

3. Availability of antiviral drugs over the counter (OTC)

When it comes to treating influenza and other viral infections, antiviral medications are often prescribed by healthcare professionals. However, many people wonder if these medications are available over the counter (OTC) or if a prescription is required. Let’s explore the availability of antiviral drugs, including Symmetrel.

3.1 Prescription-only antiviral drugs

Most antiviral drugs, including Symmetrel, are prescription-only medications. This means that you cannot purchase them directly from a pharmacy without a valid prescription from a healthcare provider. These medications require a prescription because they often have potential side effects and their use should be closely monitored by a medical professional.

3.2 Why are antiviral drugs prescription-only?

The main reason antiviral drugs are prescription-only is to ensure their safe and effective use. Antiviral medications, especially those used to treat influenza, can have potentially serious side effects and can interact with other medications or health conditions. By requiring a prescription, healthcare providers can assess the appropriateness of these medications for each individual patient and monitor their response to treatment.

Additionally, the misuse or overuse of antiviral drugs can contribute to the development of drug-resistant viruses, which is a significant public health concern. By restricting access to these medications, healthcare professionals can better manage their use and reduce the risk of resistance.

3.3 Over-the-counter options for influenza

Although prescription antiviral drugs may not be available over the counter, there are some over-the-counter options that can help alleviate the symptoms of influenza. These include:

  • Pain relievers and fever reducers: Common over-the-counter options like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help reduce fever and relieve body aches associated with influenza.
  • Cough syrups and lozenges: Over-the-counter cough syrups and lozenges can provide temporary relief for coughing and throat irritation caused by influenza.
  • Decongestants: Over-the-counter nasal decongestants can help relieve nasal congestion and sinus pressure associated with influenza.

It’s important to note that these over-the-counter options do not directly target the influenza virus itself, but rather provide symptomatic relief. They should be used according to the instructions and guidance of a healthcare professional.

3.4 Consultation with a healthcare professional

If you suspect that you have influenza or any other viral infection, it is crucial to seek advice from a healthcare professional. They can provide a proper diagnosis, recommend appropriate treatment options, and determine if a prescription antiviral medication, such as Symmetrel, is necessary.

Remember, self-diagnosis and self-medication can be risky and may not lead to an optimal outcome. Consulting a healthcare professional will ensure that you receive the most appropriate and effective treatment for your condition.

4. Downsides of using Symmetrel

While Symmetrel can be effective in treating certain conditions, it is not without its downsides. Some of the disadvantages associated with using Symmetrel include:

  1. Side effects: Like any medication, Symmetrel can cause side effects. Common side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, headache, dry mouth, and constipation. More serious side effects such as hallucinations, confusion, and difficulty breathing should be reported to a healthcare provider immediately.
  2. Drug interactions: Symmetrel may interact with other medications, especially those that affect the central nervous system. It is important to inform your doctor about all the medications you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements, to avoid potential interactions.
  3. Resistance: Over time, the influenza virus can develop resistance to amantadine, the active ingredient in Symmetrel. This means that the medication may become less effective in treating influenza A virus infections.
  4. Not effective against all strains: It’s important to note that Symmetrel is only effective against influenza A virus infections and not other types of influenza viruses, such as influenza B. It will not prevent or treat the common cold or other respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses.
  5. Ineffectiveness against influenza B: Studies have shown that Symmetrel has limited effectiveness against influenza B and is generally not recommended for treatment or prevention of this type of virus. Other antiviral drugs, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu), are more commonly prescribed for influenza B infections.

It is essential to consult with a healthcare provider before starting Symmetrel or any other medication. They can assess whether Symmetrel is suitable for your specific condition and provide guidance on proper usage and potential side effects. Additionally, it is important to follow the prescribed dosage and duration of treatment to optimize effectiveness and minimize the risk of side effects.

5. Side Effects and Precautions of Symmetrel

When taking Symmetrel, it is essential to be aware of the potential side effects and take necessary precautions. Some of the common side effects of Symmetrel include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blurred vision
  • Anxiety or nervousness

It is important to note that not everyone will experience these side effects, and they may vary in severity from person to person. If you experience any persistent or severe side effects, it is advisable to seek medical attention.
In addition to the side effects, there are certain precautions to keep in mind when taking Symmetrel:

  1. Medical History: Inform your healthcare provider about any existing medical conditions, especially kidney disease, liver disease, heart problems, seizures, or psychiatric disorders.
  2. Allergies: Discuss any allergies you have, particularly to amantadine or any other medications, before starting Symmetrel.
  3. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: It is important to consult with a healthcare professional if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as the safety of Symmetrel during these conditions is not well-established.
  4. Drug Interactions: Inform your doctor about any other medications, supplements, or herbal products you are taking, as they may interact with Symmetrel and affect its effectiveness or increase the risk of side effects.
  5. Driving and Operating Machinery: Symmetrel may cause dizziness or blurred vision, which can impair your ability to drive or operate machinery. It is important to be cautious and avoid such activities until you know how the medication affects you.

Remember, this is not an exhaustive list of side effects or precautions associated with Symmetrel. Always consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice and guidance.
For more information on Symmetrel, its side effects, and precautions, you can visit reliable sources such as the Mayo Clinic or the RxList website. These sources provide comprehensive and up-to-date information from reputable medical organizations.

6. Side effects and precautions

While Symmetrel can be an effective treatment for certain conditions, it is important to be aware of potential side effects and take necessary precautions when using this medication. Common side effects may include:

  • 1. Nausea and vomiting
  • 2. Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • 3. Insomnia
  • 4. Blurred vision
  • 5. Dry mouth
  • 6. Constipation

These side effects are usually mild and may go away on their own after some time. However, if they persist or become severe, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional.

It is also important to be aware of certain precautions when using Symmetrel. This medication can cause drowsiness or dizziness, so it is important to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until you know how it affects you.

Symmetrel may not be suitable for everyone. It is important to inform your healthcare provider about any existing medical conditions or allergies you may have, as well as any other medications or supplements you are taking.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult their healthcare provider before using Symmetrel, as its safety for these groups has not been established.

For more detailed information, it is recommended to refer to reliable sources such as the official prescribing information provided by the manufacturer, healthcare professionals, or reputable medical websites such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or Mayo Clinic.

7. Common side effects of Symmetrel

While Symmetrel is generally well-tolerated, there can be some common side effects associated with its use. It is important to note that not everyone will experience these side effects, and they may vary in severity.

Here are some common side effects of Symmetrel:

  • Nausea and vomiting: Some individuals may experience nausea or vomiting after taking Symmetrel. This side effect can often be managed by taking the medication with food.
  • Dizziness: Symmetrel can cause dizziness, which may be especially pronounced when standing up or moving quickly. It is recommended to move slowly and be cautious while taking this medication.
  • Dry mouth: Dry mouth is another common side effect of Symmetrel. Staying hydrated and practicing good oral hygiene can help alleviate this symptom.
  • Constipation: Symmetrel may cause constipation in some individuals. Increasing fiber intake and drinking plenty of water can help prevent or relieve constipation.
  • Livedo reticularis: This is a skin condition characterized by mottled discoloration, often seen as a lace-like pattern on the extremities. It is a less common side effect of Symmetrel.

If you experience any side effects while taking Symmetrel, it is important to inform your healthcare provider. They can assess the severity of the side effects and provide guidance on managing them.

While the above side effects are relatively common, there can also be rare but serious side effects associated with Symmetrel. These include hallucinations, confusion, swelling of the hands or feet, difficulty urinating, and allergic reactions. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

It is important to remember that the benefits of taking Symmetrel often outweigh the potential side effects. Your healthcare provider will carefully consider the risks and benefits before prescribing this medication to you.

For more information about Symmetrel and its side effects, you can visit the FDA prescribing information.