Consumers are increasingly worried about the side effects of Tamiflu.
How long do Tamiflu side effects last? That’s a question you should definitely be asking
The winter of 2018 proved to be the worst flu season since the 2009 swine pandemic, a season made worse because it hit the whole country at once instead of in waves, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say.
And with that alarming flu season came major concerns about the one thing that doctors everywhere readily prescribe for their patients, so much so that supplies were thin around the country for weeks: Roche Pharmaceuticals’ controversial Tamiflu.
Thousands of JustAnswer customers flocked to read the answer to a major question during this year’s flu season: How long do Tamiflu side effects last?
Tamiflu was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1999. It’s an antiviral that blocks the ability of the virus to release from cells by inhibiting the viral neuraminidase enzyme, speeding recovery for the patient.
Does Tamiflu prevent the flu? It should never be considered a substitute for a flu shot, warns the FDA, but it can be highly effective as a prophylaxis against the disease. Still, it has a reputation for some scary side effects, including hallucinations in children.
The most common side effects of Tamiflu are:
- Stomach pains
The more serious side effects include:
- Sudden confusion
- Unusual behavior
Does Tamiflu cause hallucinations in children? Some parents believe it does.
Snopes.com, the renowned myth-buster, took on the rampant Internet tale that Tamiflu can cause homicidal hallucinations in children. Snopes pointed out that while numerous reports indicate potential severe neurologic or psychiatric side effects associated with the drug in children younger than 16, 91% of these cases were reported in Japan, for reasons no one has yet identified.
Since then, there have been several studies, none of which can prove causality between Tamiflu and such severe side effects, largely because influenza can cause similar effects on its own, and because sufferers routinely take numerous different medications in addition to Tamiflu.
A 2008 review of the drug’s adverse events actually showed that the rate of neuropsychiatric events in people suffering from influenza while taking Tamiflu was statistically identical to populations of people with the flu who were not taking the drug.
Further, no studies have showed even a suggestion that hallucinations are a common side effect of Tamiflu.
But with other side effects still associated with Tamiflu – and Internet urban myths continuously circulating like wildfire, despite the lack of scientific evidence – Tamiflu questions abound on JustAnswer.
Some 5,000 anxious customers – almost five times as many as those who were interested in the next most-visited flu question – tuned in to find out “How long do Tamiflu side effects last?” Specifically, the customer asked,
“My daughter took Tamiflu three weeks ago, but had to stop because she was allergic, upset stomach, vomiting and depression. She is still experiencing some depression. I am wondering how long it would take for the side affects to go away.”
Pauline, an M.D. and registered pharmacist who has been a Medical Expert on JustAnswer since 2006, reassured the anxious parent who originally asked the question: “Tamiflu is out of the system by 50 hours after the last dose.”
“If she had flu, then a post-viral syndrome can include fatigue and depression for some time,” Pauline explained.
“Post viral syndrome can last for varying lengths of time, however some research has suggested that a positive attitude and gradual return to normal activities can lead to a better prognosis.”
Another reason why the drug is controversial is that on top of the side effects, Tamiflu effectiveness is actually minimal. Generally, you must be diagnosed via a flu test and begin taking Tamiflu within 48 hours of getting symptoms for it to work – and it still may only shorten your flu by one day.
As with the flu vaccine, pregnant women, infants or people with immune system deficiencies are more at risk if they get the flu, and might benefit more from taking Tamiflu than others. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking the drug.
Other Tamiflu issues
JustAnswer customers were also deeply interested in several other Tamiflu-related issues, starting with Tamiflu and alcohol. And the answer, according to Dr. Su S, a Medical Expert on JustAnswer, “According to the drug data base, there is no interaction between Tamiflu and alcohol.”
Tamiflu will only relieve your symptoms about one day earlier than if you didn't take it.
Many other questions involve the interaction of Tamiflu with other common medications:
- Advil: There is no drug-to-drug interaction between these two medications. But not all interactions are always known, so approach with caution and take only the recommended dose of Advil.
- Nyquil Simply Sleep: No interaction
- Augmentin (a combination antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections including sinusitis, pneumonia, ear infections, bronchitis, urinary tract infections, and infections of the skin): No interaction
- Depo-Provera (injected birth control): Tamiflu does not impact Depo-Provera’s effectiveness
- Plavix (blood thinner): There is some possibility of Plavix reducing the effect of Tamiflu. An appropriate substitution for Tamiflu is Relenza, another popular flu treatment whose effectiveness is similar to or less than Tamiflu.
You should always tell your doctor which medications you take before starting Tamiflu, and check with a doctor before taking any new medications while on Tamiflu.
How long do Tamiflu side effects last: Who wants to know?
JustAnswer’s data also reveals information about who is interested in these Tamiflu questions. When it comes to age and gender, the data is incomplete, as Google doesn’t always have that information about each user.
Of the customers whose ages we do know, those concerned about lasting side effects come from all age ranges, 18 to 65+, with almost 75% coming from the 35-54 age group. In terms of known gender, 31% were women, while only 10% were men.
And finally, there is no one time of the day when Tamiflu patients were worried about its side effects: They arrived at JustAnswer throughout the day and night. After all, health problems and concerns can strike at any time.
And that’s why JustAnswer customers consult the medical Experts. Like them, when you forgot a question you wanted to ask your doctor, want a second opinion, or can’t sleep because of your worries, JustAnswer Health Experts are always available to answer questions, night or day, whether you’re male or female, 18 or 85.
Have you experienced side effects from taking Tamiflu? Please share your experiences with us in the comments below.