The flu has become a normal part of people’s lives. This outbreak doesn’t scare people but it should.
Experts are saying that people are dealing with the worst flu epidemic in recent years, and prescriptions for Tamiflu are rising. This is one of the most popular flu medicines available.
The purchase of this medication in some states is 10 to 14 times higher than last year’s rates though the country, as a whole, has been using Tamiflu more.
The states that seem to fill their prescriptions at a high rate are states like Arizona and Wisconsin. The problem seems to be hitting states in the midwestern and southern part of the country.
You might be thinking about the flu vaccine you hear about often. Well, it is available, but Tamiflu is usually prescribed when the first symptoms appear.
Part of the reason for its popularity deals with its effectiveness. You can get rid of the symptoms linked to the flu if you take this prescription within 28 hours of getting the virus.
The prescription is also used to prevent the virus from happening in the first place. You know how troubling the flu can be. The symptoms can cost someone a day’s worth of work amongst many other things.
This is part of the reason people do their best to prevent or get rid of it. Still, some fear that the effects of this prescription are not entirely true. Some fear that the company has only highlighted the times the medicine actually did its job.
There is no doubt that something needs to be done to address this problem. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlighted the outbreak, reinforcing how hard states in the south and midwestern part of this country were affected.
The CDC’s data shows how the flu traveled throughout the country. First, it seemed to hit states like Texas around the end of the year. The virus spread afterwards, hitting the rest of the country though it did hit the midwestern states hardest.
The flu season has been known to last 16 weeks though it has gone on as long as 20 weeks. All states need to worry about this problem and its growth rate. Maine, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Hawaii, North Dakota, Alaska, and the District of Columbia may not have been hit as hard, but the people living there should still be cautious.
You can actually see how the flu is moving throughout this country live with the CDC’s public digital map here.
The following illustration shows you just how bad the flu may get compared to last year’s trends. Keep in mind that this year’s rate is about five times higher than 2017.
The Tamiflu Shortage
Tamiflu prescriptions are on an all-time high, so it makes sense that doctors and pharmacists are saying they are having trouble getting medications for those in need. This is especially hard for people living in rural areas of the country. Granted, the FDA has not confirmed the shortage, but that does not mean people are not feeling it.
Of course, there are other options like Relenza or Rapivab. Some consider these medications to be as powerful as Tamiflu. They may be more readily available, so they are worth looking into. Over-the-counter options may also help relieve some of the symptoms, so people have options.
How Effective is It?
You know that one of the most important questions any medication needs to answer deals with its effectiveness. You are paying for the medication and are expecting results. Some say that Tamiflu is the solution for everything flu-related, but there are a number of thorough studies questioning its usefulness.
For example, Cochrane Research performed a large but controlled study with more than 24,000 people. The study found that Tamiflu was not as effective as some claim.
The research team found that the best thing you can expect is recovery one day faster than without medication. Researchers also warned that things like pneumonia were not prevented.
Those who swear that it helps prevent the virus in the first place may be surprised to find out that it only reduces the risk of getting the flu by 55 percent. Many generic prescriptions and over-the-counter options have similar results, making this an unnecessary and expensive option.
No one is saying that you should not use Tamiflu, but it may not be as effective as some say.
Side Effects to Note
Like any other medication out there, Tamiflu does come with its share of side effects.
It seems the medication presents more of a danger to children than adults. Not too long ago, a 6-year-old girl almost jumped out of her window, and this event had something to do with Tamiflu.
It seems like the medication was so powerful that she began imagining things that were not there, which caused her to try to jump out of the window. Thankfully, she was stopped before she was able to hurt herself.
The FDA has actually warned parents and communities about some of these side effects. The organization put out a statement saying,
“Children and teenagers with the flu may be at a higher risk for seizures, confusion, or abnormal behavior early during their illness.”
Other symptoms associated with the medication worth mentioning are nausea, vomiting, headache, and aches. Side effects, especially ones that do not go away, are something you and your doctor should worry about.
How Did the Flu Get so Bad?
This is a fair question to ask, and it has to do with a specific strain of the virus called H3N2. Experts are saying that almost 80 percent of the people suffering from the flu have this specific strain, which is more dangerous.
Those who are thinking that the solution may be the vaccine may want to know that researchers found that the vaccine’s effectiveness against this strain was just 10 percent.
Steps to Stay Safe
The vaccine is still an option, even if its not as effective. Getting the shot may at least reduce your chances of getting sick or make the experience more manageable.
It is important that you see your doctor as soon as you feel that familiar feeling. Antiviral medication is more effective against the flu virus when it is detected early, so rush to your doctor.
One of your best tools against this virus is cleanliness. Do your best to wash your hands and avoid food that was handled by others.
Be sure to exercise to keep that body of yours strong. Your routine does not have to be too harsh; just stay relatively active.
Hopefully, some of this information and suggestions can help you stay safe. Be sure to pass on the help to family members and friends because it takes a village to stay healthy.