Does Tamiflu work and should it be used at all?
With influenza at widespread levels across the country, fears about adverse psychiatric side effects of the prescription drug Tamiflu have also gone viral on social media.
With influenza at widespread levels across the country, fears about adverse psychiatric side effects of the prescription drug Tamiflu have also gone viral on social media. WBIR has received questions from people on Facebook asking if they should be worried about taking the drug. Some have also expressed doubts about whether the drug is effective at all.
WBIR 10News spoke to experts at UT Medical Center to verify the facts about Tamiflu. Pharmacist Brian McCullough specializes in infectious diseases and says Tamiflu is an effective treatment to slow the spread of flu.
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"The class of medication is neuraminidase inhibitor, which is a bit of a mouthful. Tamiflu actually prevents the virus from leaving the cell once it infects it," said McCullough. "You get less virus in your body and you can also potentially transmit less virus to other people. It is not a cure for the flu, but it can shorten the duration."
Basically, if the virus checks into your body, Tamiflu makes it more difficult for it to spread from infected cells.
The drug can treat the flu if you start taking it within the first 48 hours of symptoms. After a couple of days of flu symptoms, the virus has likely already spread in your body and Tamiflu would not be very effective, according to McCullough.
Tamiflu can also help healthy people avoid the flu in the first place. Healthy medical staff at the hospital who encounter large amounts of flu cases have been prescribed Tamiflu.
"If you do not have influenza, but people around you do, you can actually take a lower dose and that can actually help prevent you from developing influenza yourself. You would take it once a day instead of twice a day [for prevention]," said McCullough. "I have actually taken it myself this year.
Tamiflu is approved for nearly all ages, from infants to the elderly. Side effects are usually upset stomach or headache.
Read more from WBIR's website.