Seasonal afflictions of flu, or influenza, are known to be relatively high, with the last season accounting for 6.7 million flu illnesses. A small number of these cases required hospitalization with the number of fatalities pegged at 4200 deaths. The staggering number of cases and the number of deaths, despite the low ratio of mortality, clearly makes a case for annual flu vaccines for protection. Tamiflu is considered as one of the more popular flu vaccines, for adults and children above the age of one. The following subsections offer a detailed view of the vaccine and its uses apart from the possible side effects of Tamiflu. This is intended to help users and family members prevent and mitigate any possible undesirable effects from the antiviral.
Overview of Tamiflu
Belonging to the category of influenza neuraminidase inhibitor, the antiviral delivers results by preventing the virus from multiplying in the body, thereby preventing it from aggravating. Tamiflu is also used to treat adults and children above the age of two weeks, who have been diagnosed with symptoms of the flu. This is usually administered only to those patients who have been diagnosed with the flu during the preceding 48 hours.
Available as oral formulation, the antiviral comes either as capsules or as a liquid suspension. The capsules are presently available in the following strengths:
- 30 mg
- 45 mg
- 75 mg
The liquid suspension is presently available in a strength of 6 mg per milliliter.
Mechanism of action
As an active metabolite of oseltamivir carboxylate, Tamiflu selectively inhibits the neuraminidase enzymes. This is known to be potent, and the inhibition prevents the entry of the virus into healthy cells. This in turn ensures that the virus activity from the infected cells do not spread to those parts of the body that can be infected. It is also known to bring down the amount of viral shedding and the rate of infectivity, while proven to be effective against influenza A, influenza B and H1N1.
Ideal dosage /dosage recommendations for Tamiflu
Dosage of the antiviral is determined on the basis of various factors. For instance, as outlined earlier, Tamiflu can be used to prevent flu, and it could also be used to treat flu that has been diagnosed within 48 hours; the dosage will depend if it is taken as a preventive measure or as treatment. The age of the individual taking the antiviral, the formulation type – capsule/suspension; and the presence of other medication conditions are all taken into consideration when determining the right dosage. It is to be borne in mind that the information shared below is only for the purpose of reference, and the actual dosage will be determined by the doctor.
Tamiflu as treatment
When prescribed as treatment for patients with flu above the age of thirteen, the antiviral is generally 75 mg, taken two times every day. As mentioned above, this will only work or be prescribed when the symptoms were observed 48 hours before commencing the medication. Whenever prescribed as treatment in such instances (within two days of onset of symptoms), it is recommended for a period of five days.
Tamiflu as preventive medication
When prescribed as a preventive antiviral, the recommended dosage of Tamiflu for individuals above the age of thirteen is 75 mg once daily. When prescribed to prevent flu, it is typically recommended for a period of ten days. This may sometimes stretch to as much as six weeks in the event of a community outbreak of fly.
Dosage for children below the age of 13
The above dosages are for individuals above the age of 13; the dosages for children below the age of 13 are as outlined below. When prescribed as treatment, the dosage is typically on the basis of body weight of the child. Children below 15 kgs of weight are prescribed 30 mg of the antiviral, to be taken twice daily for a period of five days. Children with weight between 15 kgs to 23 kgs are prescribed 45 mg, twice daily for five days. Children between 23 kgs to 40 kgs are prescribed 60 mg twice daily for five days. All children with weight above 40 kgs will receive dosages that are similar to that of 13-year-old children.
When prescribed for preventing flu, the dosage for children is as follows. Children weighing up to 15 kgs are prescribed 30 mg every day for 10 days. Children weighing between 15 kgs to 23 kgs are prescribed 45 mg daily for 10 days. Children between 23 kgs to 40 kgs are prescribed 60 mg daily for 10 days, while children with weight above 40 kgs are prescribed a dosage that is similar to 13-year-olds.
Dealing with missed doses
A large number of individuals on medications that are to be taken as a course for a specific duration often end up missing doses. Some are known to take a double dose in an effort to make up for the missed dose. Some skip the doses entirely. Here are simple tips on how to deal with missed doses. In the event that an individual has missed a dose, it is to be taken immediately, with one exception – if it is actually less than two hours for the next scheduled dose, then the missed dose is to be skipped. This essentially means that if an individual is taking the medication once a day, and has missed taking one dose, he or she can take the mossed dose up to 22 hours later.
Possible side effects of Tamiflu
All medications come with the possibility of undesirable effects and this also applies to vaccines. The nature of side effects may differ from person to person and depends on various factors, such as the age, in some cases gender, health of the individual, existing illnesses, and medications in use. In certain instances, the individual is unlikely to experience any effects whatsoever, while others may experience mild, moderate or adverse effects. The duration of the effects also depends on the type of effects and the intensity. Here is a look at some of the commonly reported and document undesirable outcomes of the medication. It is to be borne in mind that this is a compilation of effects and is neither exhaustive or complete. There may be other possible effects in addition to those listed below.
Commonly occurring effects
Individuals on Tamiflu may experience nausea, that may or may not be accompanied by vomiting. Some patients are likely to experience headaches as a result of the vaccine, while others may experience overall pain in the body. These effects are typically mild in nature and may not require medical attention, with most of these effects known to resolve naturally in a short time.
Undesirable effects that are serious in nature
The serious effects of Tamiflu vaccine are not frequently occurring, and rare in nature, but the possibility cannot be entirely ruled out. Effects that can be classified as serious in nature include behavior that is abnormal in nature, bordering on delirium. The individual may experience a weird out of body experience and may act strangely, in addition to reportedly hallucinating, and imagining events.
Some of the adverse effects include allergies that could be experienced by individuals on the vaccine could actually manifest from apparently trivial or simple allergies. Symptoms of allergies include outbreak of rashes on the skin, and itching on the skin. The affected area may appear reddish, and could be warm to the touch. Certain allergic reactions are considered as severe, including abnormal swelling beneath the skin, and could be visible in the eyelids, the lips, the hands and the feet. Other symptoms of allergy include swelling of the tongue, the mouth or the throat. The patient may have difficulty breathing and caregivers are advised to seek immediate medical intervention in such instances. Similarly, in the event of abnormal swelling, caretakers are to rush the patient to the hospital.
Undesirable effects among children on the vaccine
Children aged between two weeks to one year are likely to experience certain common effects such as vomiting sensations. It is necessary to ensure that the child is hydrated and supplemented with necessary electrolytes to prevent dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include absence of tears, and a mouth that is dry. Children on Tamiflu who have not passed urine for more than half a day or children with dark colored urine are to be considered as experiencing dehydration and suitable remedial measures are to be initiated. Other effects in children on the antiviral includes outbreak of diaper rash, apart from possibility of diarrhea.
Misconceptions about Tamiflu
There are certain misconceptions about Tamiflu among a large number of users. For instance, there is confusion if it belongs to the category of antibiotics. As mentioned earlier, it is an antiviral medication and not an antibiotic.
As it is popularly linked to preventive use, it is often considered to be only as a vaccine. However, it is not only a vaccine, it is also a medication that can be used to treat flu. Another doubt raging in the minds of users is its safety when used for elderly patients. Studies have clearly documented that it is both effective and safe when prescribed for elderly patients.
Patients will remain active spreaders even when on Tamiflu
Patients on Tamiflu are effectively receiving protection for themselves, and will still remain contagious as an individual. In other words, a person with the flu and who is on Tamiflu will still spread the virus to others through mediums such as saliva, cough and sneeze etc. The rule of thumb for contagious stage is simple; an individual with the symptoms may be contagious for a week from the time the symptoms manifested. Though the person may actually feel relief, the possibility of being contagious still exists.
Simple tips to prevent spread of the flu
Patients with symptoms of the flu are to follow certain simple precautions. For instance, an individual who is on Tamiflu is to
Frequently wash hands, avoid touching others, and cover the face as much as possible when either sneezing or coughing. It is necessary to avoid touching oneself when infected; such as touching one’s own eyes, nose and mouth.