Written on December 21, 2022 by Gillian (Gigi) Singer, MPH, Sexuality Educator & Certified Sexologist. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate) is a prescription medication for influenza, or the flu. It is FDA-approved and “works by attacking the flu virus to keep it from multiplying in your body and by reducing the symptoms of the flu. Tamiflu can sometimes keep you from getting the flu if you take it before you get sick” . Tamiflu comes in liquid form and in the form of oral capsules.
Per their website, Tamiflu “is a prescription medicine used to treat the flu (influenza) in people 2 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 1 year and older” . Tamiflu may also be used preventatively “in people 1 year of age and older, but it is not a substitute for getting the flu vaccine” .
According to the National Center for Health Research, “studies show that [antivirals] only help you recover one day faster from the flu. Rather than going to the doctor’s office to get examined and get a prescription, you might prefer to stay home and rest and drink plenty of fluids” .
The flu is a virus, and thus, treatments like Tamiflu are antivirals. Where antibiotics fight bacteria and bacterial infections, antivirals fight viruses and viral infections.
This medicine prevents the flu virus from growing, though it is not a substitute for the flu vaccine.
When talking to your healthcare provider about taking Tamiflu, you should tell your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have heart problems or conditions, have respiratory problems, have kidney problems, have a weakened immune system, or have other health conditions. You should also let them know what medications and vaccines you are taking or have taken or received recently .
According to the FDA, “The most common side effects of Tamiflu are nausea and vomiting. Usually, nausea and vomiting are not severe and happen in the first 2 days of treatment. Taking Tamiflu with food may lessen the chance of getting these side effects. Other side effects include stomach (abdominal) pain, nosebleeds, headache, and feeling tired (fatigue)” .
More serious side effects for children and teenagers include seizures, confusion, or abnormal behavior early during their illness .
If your child develops flu symptoms, you should contact a healthcare provider within two days to seek advice for treatment. Tamiflu is available for children above the age of 2 weeks old. Ask your healthcare provider for further instructions on dosage as it depends on the child’s weight.
Studies show that among “children 1-12 years old, Tamiflu helped children get better up to 1.5 days (26%) faster compared with children who didn’t take Tamiflu within 48 hours of first symptoms” .
The National Center for Health Research offers: “Tamiflu is heavily advertised, but many doctors believe that Tamiflu does not work well enough to justify the high cost of the drug, or the CDC recommendation that all patients take it. These doctors point out that there is very little high-quality evidence that Tamiflu reduces the rate of serious complications from the flu” . In terms of the aforementioned cost, GoodRx reports that the lowest price is $14.28 and the average retail price, according to their data, is $77.08 .
There is no consensus on if Tamiflu is the best option or treatment for the flu. Ultimately, whether or not you should or shouldn’t take Tamiflu is a decision you should make with your healthcare provider.
To get Tamiflu, it must be prescribed by a healthcare provider.
If you are stuck in bed with flu symptoms, the last thing you want to do is go to a doctor’s or healthcare provider's office.
If you would rather go to the healthcare provider from the comfort of your home, Everlywell offers telehealth visits with licensed nurse practitioners that are covered by major insurance plans, fast, and easy.
With Telehealth from Everlywell, you are just three simple steps away from talking to a provider about Tamiflu:
Everlywell’s option for flu treatment online includes diagnosis and prescription(s) for medication where applicable.