Tamiflu can help prevent the flu, and it can help you get over flu symptoms faster. It's a simple oral tablet, but it's prescription-only, so you need a doctor to approve treatment for you. We recommend Tamiflu if you're vulnerable, concerned about catching the flu, and want to be prepared.
Since it's most effective at relieving symptoms in the first 48 hours after your symptoms start, you need to be quick about getting treatment. Because of this, we only provide Tamiflu for future use, which means you need to order it as a precaution before you have the flu if you're at risk of complications from catching the virus.
As Tamiflu can also prevent you from getting infected at all, if you take it within 48 hours of being in contact with someone with the flu it's's handy to have at home, just in case. You can get 75mg Tamiflu tablets for future use from Superdrug Online Doctor, so you can be ready to protect yourself from the flu if you are exposed to the virus.
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How it Works
What is Tamiflu?
Tamiflu is an antiviral medication used to treat or prevent the symptoms of the flu (influenza).
Tamiflu can protect you from catching the flu, and stops you getting sick after you’ve been exposed to the virus. Tamiflu can also help you get better faster when you have the flu by relieving symptoms like body aches, headaches, stuffy or runny noses, and tiredness.
This is important during flu epidemics, when there are other infections going round that can cause serious health issues (such as coronavirus), or if you have risk factors that make the flu more dangerous for you.
Tamiflu is not a substitute for the flu vaccine, so we recommend that you should get vaccinated if you can. The flu vaccine will give you antibodies against the flu, which is a safer and more effective way to prevent yourself from getting infected.
It’s also important to note that Tamiflu doesn’t treat coronavirus, or any other lung or breathing problems.
People who are at-risk and can benefit from Tamiflu treatment include those who:
- Are over 65
- Have weakened immune systems
- Are pregnant, including up to 2 weeks after giving birth
- Are obese
- Have any of the following health conditions:
- Nerve, liver, kidney, lung, or chronic heart diseases
- Asthma, if preventer inhalers are needed
Can you get Tamiflu over the counter?
No. Tamiflu is a prescription-only medication, so you can’t buy it over the counter at a pharmacy. If you want to take Tamiflu, a doctor needs to approve treatment for you first.
You can order Tamiflu from Superdrug Online Doctor without needing a prescription first, as our doctors can prescribe medication online.
Is Tamiflu an antibiotic?
No. Tamiflu is an antiviral medication. The flu is caused by the influenza virus, which can only be treated by antiviral medications like Tamiflu. Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria.
What doses of Tamiflu are there?
Tamiflu comes in 5 different doses – 3mg, 30mg, 45mg, 60mg, and 75mg. The ‘dose’ tells you how much of the active ingredient, oseltamivir phosphate, is in the medication.
The dose you need, and how long you take it for depends on:
- Whether your immune system is weakened
These are the available doses of Tamiflu and who they’re for:
- 3mg: children aged 1-11 months old
- 30mg: children aged 1-12 years old who weigh up to 15kg
- 45mg: children aged 1-12 years old who weigh 16kg-23kg
- 60mg: children over 1 year old and adults who weight 24kg-40kg
- 75mg: children over 1 year old and adults who weigh 41kg or more
At Superdrug Online Doctor, we only offer Tamiflu 75mg.
Can you get Tamiflu on the NHS?
Yes. The NHS follows guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and so does offer prescriptions for Tamiflu, but they only offer them to people if:
- Type A or B flu is in circulation
- You have risk factors (listed above)
- You see them less than 48 hours after you get symptoms
The NHS does not typically offer Tamiflu if you do not currently have symptoms of the flu, so you may not be able to get it to protect yourself from a future infection. Superdrug Online Doctor is offering Tamiflu for future use to try and reduce the burden on the NHS this flu season, due to increased pressures from coronavirus.
How does Tamiflu work?
Tamiflu works by stopping the influenza virus from multiplying and spreading around your body, stopping you from getting as sick as you would without it, and in some cases stopping you from getting sick at all.
When you are exposed to the flu, the influenza virus enters your body and begins to grow and spread, causing you to get sick. Your immune system will eventually fight off the infection, which usually takes between 5-7 days, and then you’ll start to feel better.
Tamiflu contains the active ingredient oseltamivir phosphate, which works by blocking the enzyme neuraminidase. This enzyme is an important chemical that the flu virus needs to be able to grow and spread in your body. Blocking this enzyme stops the flu from being able to grow, which reduces the symptoms of the flu and also makes it harder for you to be infected in the first place.
How effective is Tamiflu?
Studies show Tamiflu can help over 60% of people recover from symptoms faster than if they didn’t receive treatment, and recovery can be up to 1-2 days faster.
- Tamiflu has a rating of 6 out of 10 on drugs.com from patients who have used it to treat the flu. 51% of users reported positive effects and 37% reported negatives ones.
- Tamiflu is rated 2.5 out of 5 stars on everydayhealth.com.
- Tamiflu is rated between 3 and 4 out of 5 stars on webmd.com across effectiveness, ease of use, and satisfaction.
- Tamiflu is rated 2.2 out of 5 on askapatient.com.
- You can read more user reviews on rxlist.com.
Tamiflu and coronavirus
Tamiflu is not effective in treating coronavirus, and is not recommended if you have symptoms. Recent studies have shown that Tamiflu does not help relieve the symptoms of coronavirus, and it also does not slow down how fast the coronavirus grew and spread throughout the body.
When you have the flu, you are more vulnerable to other infections. This is because your immune system is weakened while fighting off the flu virus. The flu and coronavirus are caused by different viruses, so you can be infected by both at the same time. There is limited evidence around exactly what happens when you catch both, but it is likely that your immune system would have a difficult time fighting off both infections at the same time. This could lead to more severe symptoms, a longer recovery time, and vulnerability to other infections.
How to take Tamiflu
How to take Tamiflu depends on if you already have flu symptoms or if you’ve come in contact with someone who has the flu and you’re taking it to protect yourself from the flu. If you’re taking it to protect against the flu, it also matters if there is currently a pandemic of flu:
- To treat flu symptoms – take one capsule twice a day for 5 days in a row (10 if your immune system is weakened)
- To prevent flu – take one capsule once a day for 10 days
How to take a Tamiflu capsule:
- Read your patient information leaflet that comes with your medication
- Swallow your capsule whole with water
- Some people can feel sick after taking Tamiflu – taking your capsule after a meal may help with this
When to take Tamiflu
- Treating the flu – Tamiflu is most effective at treating the flu if you start taking it in the first 48 hours after you start having flu symptoms.
- Preventing the flu – Tamiflu works best at preventing flu if you take it in the first 48 hours after you come into contact with someone who already has it.
What to do if you miss a dose
If you miss a dose of your Tamiflu:
- If your next dose is in less than 2 hours – skip your missed dose and take your next dose when you’re supposed to
- If your next dose is more than 2 hours away – take the dose you missed and carry on as normal
- Don’t take 2 doses together to make up for missing one
If you are sick less than 30 mins after you take your dose, take another dose.
Try not to miss doses of your Tamiflu because it makes your treatment less effective. If you have trouble remembering, try setting an alarm or using a pill box.
Tamiflu side effects
Tamiflu can cause side effects, like any medication. Less than 1% of adults who take Tamiflu get side effects. Below are the side effects Tamiflu can cause, listed by how common they are.
Very common side effects (can affect more than 1 in 10 people):
- Nausea (feeling sick)
Common side effects (can affect up to 1 in 10 people):
- Cold sore virus
- Pain in limb
- Runny nose
- Sleeping difficulties
- Sore throat
- Stomach ache
- Upper abdominal fullness
- Upper respiratory tract infections (inflammation of the nose, throat and sinuses)
- Upset stomach
Uncommon side effects (can affect 1 in 100 people):
- Allergic reactions
- Altered level of consciousness (feeling out of touch with reality)
- Convulsion (shakes or spasms)
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Mild to severe liver function disorders
- Skin reactions (inflammation of the skin, red and itchy rash, scaling skin)
Rare side effects (can affect up to 1 in 1,000 people):
- Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)
- Visual disturbances
Serious side effects – if you get any of these, get emergency medical help right away by calling 111 or 999 or seeing the NHS page on emergency medical services:
- Severe allergic reactions, with face and skin swelling, itchy rashes, low blood pressure, and breathing difficulties
- Liver disorders causing yellowing of the skin and white of the eyes, change in stool colour, changes in behaviour
- Sudden onset of severe swelling of the skin mainly around the head and neck area, including eyes and tongue, with difficulties breathing
- A complicated, possibly life-threatening allergic reaction, severe inflammation of the outer and possibly inner skin, initially with fever, sore throat, and fatigue, skin rashes, leading to blisters, peeling, shedding of larger areas of skin, possible breathing difficulties and low blood pressure
- Prolonged bleeding from the large bowel or spitting up blood
- Convulsions (shakes and spasms) and delirium, including altered level of consciousness
- Confusion, abnormal behaviour
- Delusions, hallucinations, agitation, anxiety, nightmares
Tamiflu is not right for everyone. Do not take Tamiflu before speaking to a doctor and let them know if you:
- are allergic to Tamiflu or any of its ingredients
- are allergic to other medicines
- have problems with your kidneys – your dose may need to be adjusted for this
- have a severe medical condition, which may require immediate hospitalisation
- have a weakened immune system
- have chronic heart disease or respiratory disease
- have a current respiratory infection, other than the flu, like bronchitis
- have already had the flu vaccine this season more than 14 days ago
If you are pregnant – talk to one of our doctors before taking Tamiflu if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. They will be able to check if Tamiflu is right for you.
Tamiflu can also interact with some other medications. Make sure you let your doctor know if you are already taking:
- chlorpropamide (used to treat diabetes)
- methotrexate (used to treat e.g. rheumatoid arthritis)
- phenylbutazone (used to treat pain and inflammation)
- probenecid (used to treat gout)