How Does Tamiflu Work?

How Does Tamiflu Work?
How Does Tamiflu Work? (Image: Photo from

What Is Tamiflu?

Tamiflu (olsetamivir phosphate) is a prescription medication for flu treatment and prevention. Used correctly, the drug can slow the spread of the flu virus within your body, prevent the onset of full-blown flu symptoms, and lessen the severity and duration of symptoms.

Tamiflu typically comes in capsule form--a pill to be taken orally--but can also be obtained in powder form to mix into a liquid. The average cost of a ten-pill course of Tamiflu is $80 to $90. Due to the prevalence of counterfeit Tamiflu, make sure to buy Tamiflu from properly licensed pharmacies, and take extra caution when ordering the drug online.

Using Tamiflu

Tamiflu should be taken with 48 hours of the first appearance of flu symptoms in order for it to be effective. Common flu symptoms include fever, chills, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches and stomach and chest discomfort. Because Tamiflu only works in the early stages of flu and is a prescription medication, you should get in to see a doctor as soon as you start experiencing flu symptoms.

Roche Pharmaceuticals, Tamiflu's producer, claims that adult flu patients who take Tamiflu feel better 30 percent faster (1.3 days) than patients who do not, while children feel better 26 percent faster (1.5 days). However, the company does warn that "Tamiflu is not a substitute for the flu shot; vaccination is the first line of defense for flu protection."

If you have the flu already, you will take Tamiflu twice a day for five days in the morning and evening, completing the entire 10-pill cycle. If you are in contact with flu sufferers and want to take Tamiflu as a preventative measure, take a pill once a day for 10 days, or up to six weeks if approved by your doctor. The medication can be taken with or without food, but a little food can help prevent any nausea.

Tamiflu Side Effects

The most common side effects of Tamiflu are nausea and vomiting. Children and adolescents are at risk of becoming confused or disoriented after taking Tamiflu, so keep an eye out for any change in behavior.

Pregnant and nursing women should not use Tamiflu, and the drug should not be given to children under 1 year old. Consult your doctor before starting Tamiflu treatment if you have kidney, heart or respiratory disease, are taking other medication already or if you are allergic to olsetamivir phosphate or other Tamiflu ingredients.

People with fructose intolerance may be particularly sensitive to the sorbitol content of Tamiflu and experience extreme nausea. Long-term studies of Tamiflu use and effectiveness have not been conducted.

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