Jan 15, 2018, 9:24:56 AM CST Oct 3, 2023, 7:05:41 PM CDT

Should children take Tamiflu?

Learn about Tamiflu for kids and when this medicine can help children feel better

Little girl sick with the flu in bed while parent takes temperature with thermometer and feels her forehead with their hand Little girl sick with the flu in bed while parent takes temperature with thermometer and feels her forehead with their hand

When kids are sick, all you want is to help them feel better. But treating the flu can be tricky because the flu is a virus and viruses don't respond to antibiotics. Many kids who have the flu get better with rest and fluids. The antiviral medicine Tamiflu may be another option, depending on timing and if your child is at greater risk of developing complications from the flu.

What does Tamiflu do?

Tamiflu is a medication that shortens how long the flu lasts by a day – or a day and a half. It also makes the symptoms less severe. However, it is not going to cure the flu the way an antibiotic cures a bacterial infection.

Though Tamiflu doesn't cure the flu, it still might help your child. Tamiflu is most often used for the following purposes in children.

Tamiflu for treatment in high-risk children

Tamiflu can be an important medicine for kids who are younger than 5. It can also help reduce your child's risk for severe illness or hospitalization if they have:

  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Metabolic conditions
  • Neurologic conditions
  • Neuromuscular disorders

Tamiflu for flu prevention in high-risk children

Tamiflu may also help prevent high-risk children from getting the flu if they are around someone with the flu. For instance, if your child has asthma and their sibling gets the flu, your child with asthma may benefit from taking Tamiflu before they show symptoms.

Taking Tamiflu could prevent your child with asthma from getting the flu or make the flu less severe if they do get it. Your child can take Tamiflu for up to six weeks.

Your child should also receive a flu shot every year and practice good hand hygiene to prevent the flu.

Tamiflu for low-risk children who just started flu symptoms

If your child is over the age of 5 and generally healthy, they may or may not benefit from using Tamiflu. If your child does take Tamiflu, it's important that they start taking it as soon as symptoms begin.

Is Tamiflu effective after 48 hours?

Tamiflu works best if your child takes it within 48 hours of flu symptoms starting. If your child is at day four or five of the flu and is generally healthy, it may not be worth starting to take Tamiflu.

What are symptoms of flu in kids?

Flu symptoms in children can include:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Fever or feverish chills

What are the side effects of Tamiflu in children?

Tamiflu rarely has side effects. It comes in both a pill and a liquid form. Rarely, children who are intolerant of fructose (fruit sugar) may experience nausea and vomiting with the liquid form of Tamiflu, because it contains a type of fructose syrup called sorbitol. If children are generally healthy and they are not good at taking pills, it may not be worth risking this side effect of liquid Tamiflu.

Instead, you may want to focus on helping them rest, drinking plenty of fluids and healing while their bodies fight off the flu.

While everyone wants medicine to help make their child feel better, the benefits of taking Tamiflu depend on the situation. If your child is considered high-risk they may benefit from Tamiflu. If they’re low risk, it’s best to discuss taking Tamiflu with your child’s pediatrician.

Tamiflu is most effective if prescribed within 48 hours of flu symptoms occurring. See other facts about Tamiflu and kids via @Childrens. 

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communicable disease, fever, flu, flu season, influenza, vaccine, virus

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