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Tamiflu: What To Know About The Most Commonly Prescribed Medicine For Flu

February 21, 2018
Tamiflu

You’ve mostly likely heard by now that this year’s flu season is one of the worst in decades. Many urgent cares and ERs around the country are overwhelmed with patients suffering with flu symptoms, and health professionals are reiterating that it is not too late to receive a flu shot.

However, as the intense flu season rages on and more people are affected, it has many wondering if the prescription drug Tamiflu is the best option for a flu diagnosis. The antiviral drug has been around for almost twenty years, but do you know the basics about it? Here’s what you need to know:

What is it?

Tamiflu is a prescription medicine used to treat the flu in people two weeks of age and older who have had flu symptoms for no more than 2 days. Tamiflu can also reduce the chance of getting the flu in people one year and older.

Is it effective?

On average, patients who start taking Tamiflu within 48 hours of getting sick will recover one to two days faster than patients who do not take anything. Roche, the makers of Tamiflu, claim that Tamiflu also reduces the number of patients who have serious complications from the flu, such as pneumonia or hospitalization.

In addition, when Tamiflu was prescribed to prevent the flu in people exposed to confirmed cases of flu, it was able to reduce their likelihood of getting sick by as much as 55%.

Is Tamiflu safe?

The most common side effects of Tamiflu are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pains
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches

The more serious side effects include:

  • Seizures
  • Sudden confusion
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Self-injury

The serious side effects are rare, but tend to occur more often in children—for this reason, it is worth being aware of the risks if it is prescribed to your child.

Should a member of my family or I take Tamiflu if diagnosed with the flu?

The short answer: no. Despite the headlines lately, most healthy children and adults can weather the flu without medication. Tamiflu is ideal for those who are considered high risk of complications: everyone over age 65, pregnant women, and infants.

What’s the best treatment for people not taking antiviral drugs?

You’ve heard it since you were a child: rest and fluids. However, remaining vigilant is extremely important—the flu can turn serious quickly. Seek medical attention for severe symptoms like a lasting high fever, difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, and confusion.

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