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. 

 

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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. 

Galen Engel, CNP is a certified family nurse practitioner. Galen is a provider at IHA Urgent Care - Domino's Farms, IHA Urgent Care - WestArbor, IHA Urgent Care - Milan, IHA Urgent Care - Livingston and IHA After Hours Care - Brighton.