Written on January 27, 2023 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. 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) is a brand-name antiviral medication used to treat influenza, or the flu [1-3]. The antiviral medication is in a class called neuraminidase inhibitors . Tamiflu works by preventing the virus from spreading, which helps reduce the severity and duration of flu symptoms [1-4]. Tamiflu is a treatment for influenza virus types A and B . The medication is effective when taken within the first 48 hours of the onset of flu-like symptoms and used in adults and children. The drug is ineffective against the common cold or other viral infections . Tamiflu is also indicated for prophylaxis. In other words, it is used to prevent you from getting the flu when you are exposed to people who are infected with the influenza virus . The medication cannot be purchased over the counter and requires a prescription from a healthcare provider.
Healthcare providers can recommend Tamiflu as a preventative measure for the flu . Additionally, Tamiflu can be a preventative measure for healthcare workers who regularly come in contact with patients with the flu . If you have an underlying health condition or live with friends or family members who are at high risk, particularly small children and the elderly, the preventative use of Tamiflu can be beneficial [1-3]. For example, if you have underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, taking Tamiflu may help reduce your risk of complications from an influenza infection [5,7].
Studies have shown that prophylactic use of Tamiflu can reduce the risk of influenza infection in healthy adults and those with underlying medical conditions [6-8]. It also effectively reduces the risk of hospitalization and complications in high-risk individuals. However, it’s important to note that Tamiflu is not a substitute for getting a flu vaccine [1,3]. The vaccine is currently recommended as the most effective way to prevent influenza .
It is imperative to consult a healthcare professional before starting any new medication regimen, including the prophylactic use of Tamiflu. They will consider your individual risk factors and provide guidance on whether Tamiflu is appropriate.
A 2004 study conducted by the Norwegian Health Services Research Center examined the health benefits of taking Tamiflu as a preventative measure during a flu pandemic and found that the medication was highly effective in reducing the symptoms and duration of the flu . The researchers showed that Tamiflu had a protective effect of 58%-89% against influenza in healthy adults when taken for periods of five days to six weeks. Preventative Tamiflu use for six weeks in a vaccinated elderly population resulted in a protective effect of 92%. Children given post-exposure prophylaxis for 10 days achieved a protective effect of 55%-80%. In addition to the protective effects of Tamiflu, it reduced the duration of symptoms such as cough and fever, as well as hospitalization duration in healthy adults, children, and high-risk adults.
A 2011 systematic review that included 22 published reports and 18 randomized controlled studies investigated the use of oseltamivir and other neuraminidase inhibitors for flu prevention . The study found that oseltamivir was efficacious in seasonal prophylaxis for the flu in healthy adults and suggested protective efficacy after exposure to the flu virus.
According to the FDA, the recommended preventative Tamiflu dosage in adults and adolescents is 75 mg once daily for 10 days. In pediatric patients 1-12 years of age, the dosage is based on weight and taken daily for 10 days .
Every drug has side effects, and Tamiflu has side effects that you should be aware of [1,3,5,7]. Healthy adults who took Tamiflu as a preventative measure most often reported nausea, vomiting, and headache. Children given Tamiflu often reported vomiting as the most common side effect [5,7]. In some rare cases, allergic reactions, where the skin breaks out in rashes, have happened in people who take Tamiflu. In some instances, children and teenagers with the flu may be at a higher risk for seizures, confusion, or abnormal behavior early during their illness .
Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is a brand-name antiviral medication used to treat influenza or the flu [1-3]. The drug works by preventing the virus from spreading, which helps reduce the severity and duration of flu symptoms. It can be used in adults and children but cannot be purchased over the counter without a prescription. The preventative use of Tamiflu in healthy individuals is advised by health professionals, particularly for healthcare workers who come in contact with patients with the flu, people with underlying medical conditions, and those who live with friends or family members at high risk. However, it is essential to note that Tamiflu is not a substitute for getting a flu vaccine, and it is still recommended to get the vaccine as it is the most effective way to prevent influenza . Consult a healthcare professional before starting any new medication regimen, including preventative use of Tamiflu for flu.
You can easily schedule a telehealth video call with a certified healthcare provider with Everlywell for potential flu treatment online, which may include prescriptions from a healthcare provider as necessary.
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