H1N1 Flu and Tamiflu
Tamiflu is an anti-viral medication useful for treating H1N1 Flu (sometimes referred to as Swine Flu). Here are the facts about this drug:
- First: It's only available by prescription.
- Second: It must be started within 48 hours of the start of flu symptoms to have an effect.
- Third: It usually reduces the time your child is sick by 1 or 2 days. Also, it improves the symptoms, but does not eliminate them.
- Fourth: There is a downside. Tamiflu causes vomiting in 10% of patients and nausea in many more.
Now that you know Tamiflu isn't a silver bullet, which children should receive Tamiflu?
The Centers for Disease Control recommends Tamiflu be prescribed for all High-Risk children who come down with H1N1 Flu symptoms. High-Risk means children who are at increased risk of coming down with complications of H1N1 Flu, such as pneumonia. High-Risk children include the following: those with lung disease (such as asthma), heart disease (such as a congenital heart disease), weak immune system (such as cancer), neurological disease (such as muscular dystrophy), diabetes, sickle cell disease, kidney disease, diseases requiring long-term aspirin therapy or other chronic diseases. Being pregnant is also a risk factor. Healthy children are only at increased risk if they are less than 2 years old. These risk factors are the same ones used for treating regular seasonal flu.
What about all the other healthy children who are over 2 years old?
The CDC recommends that these Low-Risk children not receive Tamiflu, unless they need to be hospitalized or come down with a complication such as pneumonia. Both of these events are uncommon.
Remember: If your child is not in the High-Risk group, he will probably have symptoms that are similar to those seen with regular seasonal flu. Most children recover from H1N1 Flu easily with supportive care of the main symptoms. Tamiflu is not needed.
If you have other questions about Tamiflu, talk with your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 9/28/2009
Last Revised: 9/28/2009
Copyright 1994-2009 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.