Is Tamiflu Right For You?

 

With this year's widespread influenza outbreak, you may have heard of Tamiflu, an antiviral medicine used as a treatment option for influenza. While Tamiflu may minimize flu symptoms, it won't help everyone with the flu. Galen Engel, CNP, a trusted provider at IHA Urgent Care locations advises on common questions about Tamiflu - learn why it may or may not be the right option for you this flu season. 

I visited an IHA Urgent Care location and was tested for the flu - it turns out I have it. Why didn't the Urgent Care provider prescribe me Tamiflu? I want to feel better, stat. 

Tamiflu isn't a cure-all treatment for influenza. First, it is only recommended within the first 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends prescribing Tamiflu for "high risk" populations like those with chronic conditions (including asthma and diabetes), immunocompromised individuals, children less than 2 years of age (and some children less than 5 years of age), and pregnant women. Learn more about "high risk" populations. Finally, it is very important to have a conversation with the provider you are seeing at an IHA Urgent Care location to review your medical history and the length of your illness, so the best medical decision can be made for you as an individual. 

My kids / coworkers / classmates have the flu - can I get Tamiflu so that I don't get sick too? 

Tamiflu as a preventive measure should be considered for populations who are "high risk" (see above) for complications from influenza - Tamiflu and other antiviral drugs may prevent serious complications and can make you feel better, faster. If you are concerned about exposure to the influenza virus, contact your primary care provider for guidance about possible preventive treatment. 

I've been sick for days - I heard Tamiflu is the only thing that works! Can I get it? 

Tamiflu is recommended within the first 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms. Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. 

I just started experiencing flu-like symptoms a few hours ago - what should I do? 

If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care. If, however, you have symptoms of flu and are in a "high risk" group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your primary care provider as soon as possible for guidance about treatment. Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. 

Please seek medical attention immediately if you have any of the following: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, purple or blue discoloration of the lips, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, seizures or flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough. Learn more about taking care of yourself & others through the flu. 

I'm breastfeeding my baby - will Tamiflu help me keep her safe from the flu? 

Tamiflu is advised to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding if necessary. There is a very low concentration of Tamiflu in breast milk. However, if you have the flu it is important to take precautions to avoid spreading the flu to your infant as babies cannot get a flu shot under 6 months old. Influenza may cause serious illness in postpartum women and prompt evaluation for febrile respiratory illnesses is recommended. Learn more about protecting your baby from the flu. 

 

___

The 2017 - 2018 flu season is beginning to wane, but it is always important to protect yourself and others from the spread of the flu. If you haven't had a flu shot since September 2017, it's not too late - learn more & schedule your flu shot at IHA. 

 

Information for this blog post was interpreted from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's resources on influenza. 

I Vaccinate is a campaign focused on informing Michigan parents about vaccinations using information and tools based on real medical science and research. Support for the campaign is provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Franny Strong Foundation.

At IHA, we believe in the safety and benefits of childhood immunizations. We advocate following the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for immunizations. We stay informed about newly published immunization studies and have not seen any studies that lead us to support the delay of immunizations or use of alternative immunization schedules. Alternative immunization schedules leave children unprotected at the most vulnerable ages.

To best protect your children, our other patients, as well as our staff and providers from preventable illnesses, we have made the decision to only accept new families into our practices who plan to fully immunize their children according to the Center for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. If your child is behind on the recommended immunizations, the office may contact you or we ask that you discuss this with your child’s provider at their next visit.

Click here to learn more about I Vaccinate.

Null

Recently social media has been filled with trending “Sunburn Art” photos – people strategically applying sunscreen in extravagant patterns then getting intensely sunburned to display the masterpiece. Although it may be tempting to show off artistic talents for the Instagram likes and retweets, sunburns can have long term consequences on your skin health, including risk for skin cancer and premature aging. As you enjoy the outdoors this summer here are a few tips for sunscreen use:

What kind of sunscreen should I buy? Do I really need the SPF 100+? The best option is to find one that you are willing to wear regularly! The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that sunscreen should be broad spectrum with protection against both UVA and UVB. This should be at least SPF 30 and water resistant. Many dermatologists recommend a higher SPF, even SPF 100. This is due to recent research showing that many people do not apply sunscreen as thick as how the SPF number was established. Often, people use as little as 25-50%! Using a higher SPF may partially compensate for putting on too little. Using a moisturizer containing sunscreen on exposed skin can be nice for daily use when you know you won’t have extended time outside. Usually the SPF in makeup is an added bonus but is not applied thick enough to rely on.

What is the safest way to apply sunscreen? It is best to apply sunscreen 15-20 minutes before going outdoors. It takes this long to fully absorb. Make sure to apply it to all exposed skin, getting help for hard to reach places like the middle of the back. To get the true SPF value on the bottle, sunscreen amount should be based on the “teaspoon rule” – 1 teaspoon to the face/neck/scalp, 1 teaspoon for each arm, 1 teaspoon to the chest and abdomen, 1 teaspoon to the back, and 2 teaspoons for each leg. Please be sure to re-apply every two hours while outside because the sunscreen will lose effectiveness over time. The re-application rule is also important after swimming or heavy sweating. Many people who wore sunscreen at the beginning of long day outside get burned because of not reapplying. Keep up the good work!

But I hate the feel and smell of sunscreen. What are my alternatives? Physical blockage from the sun by clothing is an alternative to sunscreen. There are many marketplace options for UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing with UVA and UVB protection based on weave and thickness of the fabric. This should be taken with caution because bleaching or stretching the fabric can decrease the effectiveness. A broad brim hat can be helpful but this has been documented to only show SPF protection less than 10 (and a baseball hat has a SPF 1.5 for the nose at best!). These are best used in combination with other forms of sun protection.

Do the sunscreen recommendations change for my kids? Sun protection for kids and teenagers is super important! It is well documented that sun exposure in childhood is a risk factor for developing skin cancer as an adult. Per the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is best to use other sun protective methods first (shade, sun protective clothing, hats) with broad spectrum sunscreen applied on skin that is still exposed. Sunscreens with UV blocking active ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are recommended for children under two years old.

If you are interested in having a skin cancer screening or would like to have a concerning lesion evaluated, our board-certified and experienced dermatologists at IHA Dermatology are always happy to help in any way that we can. Just call us at 734-667-DERM (3376) to schedule an appointment.