Even though Tamiflu is used frequently by people suffering from the flu, many people have not heard of this medication. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat the seasonal flu. It was approved for adults and children who are at least one-year old. Since it was approved by the FDA, it has been the most prescribed medication to treat influenza. (1)
The manufacturer of Tamiflu advertises that in order for it to be effective, it must be taken for the first time within 48 hours of the first sign of flu symptoms. It is provided in capsule form for adults, and in a fruit flavored liquid for children. The typical duration of treatment involves taking Tamiflu twice per day for five days straight. Even though it is commonly provided to patients who are starting to show symptoms of the flu, it is also approved for preventing the contraction of the flu virus. (2)
In 2009, The British Medical Journal (BMJ) released a report stating that Tamiflu might not be as safe for treating the flu in children as originally conceived. Their report recommends that physicians limit prescribing Tamiflu to people who fall into the high-risk category, since the virus does not cause severe symptoms in all patients. (3, 4)
Tamiflu Is a Risky Medication
It might seem enticing to get a prescription medication to fight the effects of the flu virus, and even to prevent contracting the flu virus. However, there have been reports of serious, and potentially fatal side effects from taking the medication. These claims can be found in the BMJ article, which is making doctors weigh the risks and benefits a lot more carefully.
Tamiflu should not be used as a substitute for getting an annual flu shot. The medication cannot be used within two weeks of getting the vaccine, either through a shot or though the nasal vaccine. People who have kidney disease, heart problems, lung disease, any condition involving the brain, or a condition involving inflammation, should not use Tamiflu. Women who are pregnant should not use Tamiflu because it could cause significant health problems in an unborn baby. (5)
Tamiflu Claims a 19-Year-Old’s Eye Sight
In January of 2010, a massive amount of media coverage surrounded a 19-year-old woman who had recently taken Tamiflu and was blinded. The medication was prescribed by the National Health Services in Great Britain. Within 72-hours, the young woman had gone from suffering from the flu to being on life support in the hospital. The young woman suffered from two conditions, Stevens Johnson Syndrome and toxic epidural necrolysis. Doctors told her that the two conditions should resolve themselves after about 24-months, but there is no promise that her eyesight would ever return. (6)
Reports of Side Effects
Patients who have taken Tamiflu experience a wide array of scary side effects. The list itself is frightening:
• Hot flashes
• Dry mouth
• Buzzing in the body
• Cold sweats
• Night sweats
• Stomach pain
• Numbness and tingling in extremities
• Lack of energy
• Rapid heart rate
• Memory loss
• Strange, vivid dreams
Even patients who did not report these specific side effects have stated the side effects experienced from the time they took their first dose are worse than having the flu.
Claims from Tamiflu Manufacturers
The manufacturers of Tamiflu openly state that the purpose of the medication is solely to reduce the amount of time an individual suffers from flu symptoms. They also admit that the medication typically only reduces the duration of symptoms by 24-hours.
Since the medication only reduces the duration of symptoms by 24-hours, and it comes with a host of side effects, it is best to wait the symptoms out and utilize herbal methods for symptom relief, as long as you are otherwise in good health. The risks of taking the medication drastically outweighs any benefit that can be gained in a 24-hour period.
The Price of Tamiflu Might Come Out of Your Pocket
Tamiflu is a very expensive medication, and most insurance companies do not cover it. In August of 2009, the number of side effects being released in the media caused a significant amount of doubt to fall over Tamiflu. The majority of side effects experienced surrounded heart disorders and psychiatric disorders. The media also reported a large number of children who had taken the medication suffered from severe nausea, vivid nightmares, and many other reactions. (7)
Doctors in Great Britain have learned a great deal about the potential long-term side effects people can have after taking Tamiflu. Doctors realized that patients taking Tamiflu were at a greater risk for having a stroke. It also interacts with blood thinners, like warfarin. Considering that more over 600,000 people in Great Britain are already on a blood thinner, prescribing it is pointless. The recommendation is that Tamiflu should only be prescribed for people who are at high-risk of developing severe complications. However, Tamiflu interacts with the medications taken by the people who fall into these high-risk categories.
(1) Center for Disease Control and Prevention: 2011-2012 Influenza Antiviral Medications
(2) PubMed Health: Oseltamivir
(3) British Medical Journal Group Blog: Helen Macdonald on Side Effects, Tamiflu and the Swine Flu Hotline
Helen Macdonald on side effects, Tamiflu, and the swine flu hotline
(4) The Guardian: Don’t Give Tamiflu or Relenza to Under-12s, Warns Researchers
(5) Drugs.com: Tamiflu
(6) Health Freedom Alliance: Girl, 19, Lft Battling Blindness After Taking Tamiflu
(7) NHS Choices: Tamiflu Side Effects in Children