Does Tamiflu Really Work?

Does Tamiflu Really Work?


As you may know, there is no cure for the flu. Your best shot at beating this virus and avoiding all those infamous symptoms is to get your flu shot. However, if you do catch the flu, your doctor may recommend taking a medication called Tamiflu.

What Is the Flu?

Frequently referred to as “the flu,” Influenza is a short-term viral infection in the respiratory tract. It is highly contagious, and therefore spreads easily. Children, old adults, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to catching the flu. This disease spreads by air through coughs or sneezes, skin contact, saliva, and even contact with a contaminated surface, such as a light switch. Symptoms include fever, chills, congestion, body aches, fatigue, and nausea or vomiting. It is typically self-diagnosable, but there is a test available at your doctor’s office that will confirm if you have the virus for sure.

What Is Tamiflu?

When diagnosed with the flu, the doctor usually orders lots of rest and fluids while your body fights off the infection. Because it is a virus and not a bacterial infection, antibiotics cannot help fight the flu. However, your doctor may prescribe Tamiflu. Developed by Gilead Sciences, Tamiflu takes about 6-8 months to synthesize. It is an antiviral medication used to ‘treat’ and prevent the flu.

How Does Tamiflu Work?

The flu virus has a special coating which allows it to enter the cell. Once inside the cell it replicates and new viruses form and leave the host cell to infect other cells and replicate once again. The original host cell then dies. This is how the flu virus spreads in the body. After so many cells have died, the patient starts to feel the symptoms, such as fever and aches. Tamiflu works by binding to the coating of the flu virus, which prevents it from breaking out of the cell. Therefore, the virus is restricted to only the number of cells it has already infected. In short, the virus cannot spread further.

When Should You Take Tamiflu?

While this antiviral medication can inhibit the virus, there comes a point where the number of infected cells is too great for Tamiflu to be effective. What does this mean? The sooner, the better. Doctors recommend taking it within the first 48 hours of flu symptoms. Some doctors will prescribe it to prevent the flu for people who have come into contact with someone with the virus, but the CDC warns to use discretion with the drug.

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