DETROIT (WWJ) – As the flu continues to spread across Michigan and the nation, some are questioning how best to treat it.
WWJ’s Dr. Deanna Lites reports many parents are asking doctors to prescribe the antiviral medication Tamiflu to help lessen their children’s symptoms.
However, Dr. Richard Weiermiller, an internist and pediatrician at Beaumont Hospital, cautions that the drug is not for everyone; and, in most cases, he says the medicine isn’t necessary.
Tamiflu, he explained, is only meant for those who are at risk for developing complications from the flu — and the CDC has very specific guidelines as to who is a candidate.
“If the child is under age two it would be an indication to use the Tamiflu, or maybe has a chronic illness like asthma, and that would also be an indication,” Weiermiller said. “But if it’s a healthy child with no major problems…the best thing to do is just treat symptoms, control fevers, push fuilds and the child should do fine.”
Giving children Tamiflu when they don’t need it could lead to the development of resistance to the drug, Weiermiller explained, and then it won’t work as well down the line. Tamiflu may also cause side-effects, including nausea, vomiting and skin reactions.
“The take home message is that it’s a drug that isn’t a cure — it slows the process down,” Weiermiller said. “It only works if we get it in early on, and it really only should be used in individuals that are at the highest risk of getting seriously ill from the flu.”
As always, when in doubt, ask your doctor.