Should moms be put on Tamiflu when kids are?

My 6-year-old came downstairs Sunday around 5 a.m. barking, wheezing and crying. Initially I just thought she was having an asthma attack because we had hiked the day before and everything is starting to bloom here. But then I felt her and she clearly had a fever.

I treated her asthma with multiple inhalers, gave her ibuprofen and put her in my bed. Two days of bed rest later, she actually looked worse. (Although her bark was gone and her lungs sounded clear).  So we went to the doctor. I assumed she was going to tell us a sinus infection. The doctor walked in and immediately said she has the flu.

Lilina had her flu shot and that’s why it wasn’t worse according to the doctor. She said it would have been much worse without the shot attenuating it. The doctor prescribed Tamiflu for her and then turned to me.

My pediatrician knows that my husband is in Russia for the Olympics, and I am alone taking care of three kids. (All my family lives 2,000 miles away!) She said you’re going to get it next, and you can’t get it so I want you to start on Tamiflu too.

Tamiflu is recommended for caregivers who are exposed to the virus. Instead of two doses for five days, you take one dose for 10 days. So far so good. I haven’t come down with it yet, and Lilina feels much better . (Although the pediatrician said she needed to stay home for the rest of the week.)

I asked my pediatrician if I would be hurting myself later by taking the Tamiflu preventatively. She said no as long as I finished the prescription.

She said she would call Tamiflu in for the big kids if they showed signs of the flu. So far we are clear but they also haven’t been near the 6-year-old at all since she got the fever.

I appreciate so much that my pediatrician is worried about my whole family, and I appreciate her being smart enough to head off disaster at my house.I can’t imagine being here alone with three kids and having the flu.

Do you think parents should be given Tamiflu preventatively when they know they have been caring for an active flu case? Would your pediatrician do this for you? Would you take the Tamiflu preventatively?

21 comments Add your comment

Hidden Agenda

February 5th, 2014
8:32 pm

Nobody should be put on that dangerous drug. When it was first released its use was tightly controlled and was considered a last resort. Now that BigPharma isn’t making enough money from a restricted application they are prescribing it like candy for any flu-like symptom. Sorry, plenty of natural and safer ways to get through flu season.

Techmom

February 5th, 2014
10:28 pm

I think that’s awesome of your Ped. Theresa. Our family doc will call Tamiflu in based on a phone call but he’s not offered to do it for prevention. Our son had the flu last year and he called it in and then just told us to call back if either my husband or I started having symptoms.

Theresa – what has Michael’s experience been in Sochi? I’ve seen lots of Tweets about the hotels not being finished.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 5th, 2014
10:47 pm

I think if he wasn’t out of the country and I had any support here we would wait and see if I came down with it but I had been caring for her for two days already and have absolutely no help here at all. So I am more scared of having the flu alone with three kids than taking meds. I think she is awesome. She spent an hour wtih us. She was really thoughtful about it an it’s not off label.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 5th, 2014
10:50 pm

On Sochi — He showed us his hotel room via Facetime last night and it looks pretty normal. He has shower curtains, and actually has a bedroom, sitting room, bathroom, has a fridge and a balcony — ONly two things that struck me as odd — There was painting around a door frame wehre they clearly had primed it and then didn’t get back to do the final coat but it wasn’t horrible. There were some terrible velvet looking covers on the couch and chair in the living room area — but other than that it looked pretty normal.
He was just happy to have a room after 24 hours of traveling. I haven’t heard from him today so not sure what he thought of the media center yet or the little town. He showed us out the window with the Facetime and it looked like a plain resort town.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 5th, 2014
10:50 pm

Meaning the condos looked kind of plain.

Mother of 2

February 5th, 2014
10:52 pm

Pediatrician’s are usually pretty conservative when it comes to prescribing drugs. I’ve never heard of using Tamiflu as a preventative drug. You should probably ask your pharmacist if you are feeling at all uncomfortable taking it. It does have some pretty severe, although unusual, side effects. Hope you all stay healthy.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 5th, 2014
10:55 pm

Feeling fine on it — it’s on multiple medical sites as indicated — not off label. She is the best most thoughful pediatrician. She will call you just to check in if she’s worried about you after you’ve seen her. She’s FB me to check in when I had one sick and to tell me she supported me. Soooo loving. Cannot tell you how loving!!

My throat had started to hurt yesterdya and my glands had started to swell — i couldnt’ decide it was just me being paranoid but I actually feel better today after taking the tamiflu.

HB

February 5th, 2014
11:08 pm

I’m actually more surprised that she prescribed it for Lilina. I thought it was generally ineffective if started more than 48 hours after symptoms begin.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 5th, 2014
11:18 pm

She was on her third day — she said did say that — Two years ago I had the flu for more than four days and went in, started it and within hours felt better so I felt good that it would help her. she says today that she feels bad but better.

HB

February 6th, 2014
12:11 am

I’m glad she’s feeling better, but I still wonder if it made a difference. After 4 days, I bet she’d have felt bad but better drugs or not. Bless her heart — flu’s miserable. :(

motherjanegoose

February 6th, 2014
7:23 am

TWG…texting my son. I will ask and see if he gets back to me about it. He has seen LOTS of folks come in w/o a flu shot and a Tamiflu scrip. Hope things improve!

motherjanegoose

February 6th, 2014
8:39 am

TWG…prophylactic ( sp?) for exposed patients.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 6th, 2014
9:55 am

translation on prophylactic is preventative so yup exactly what her plan was — We;ll see how she feels today when she wakes up. She slept much better last night. And so far the big kids seem clear.

FCM

February 6th, 2014
10:37 am

TWG–I hope the big kids and you don’t get it. I am sorry that Lilli did. I still have Michael in prayer for his Sochi trip. I know how it is to be the “only parent” available to take care of the kids :) So I am raising you in prayer (still) too!

As to the blog headline….Yes, if the doctor thinks that tamiflu will keep Mom from coming down with the illness she should be on it. Most illnesses are worse the older you get (and I know that was true when I had the flu in 2008). You do not need to be down with the flu ever, but especially right now.

Right now I cannot get immunizations so I cannot get the flu shot. The kids had theirs, but believe me from what you wrote, the first sign they might have flu they will be in the doctors office.

Maude

February 6th, 2014
12:10 pm

Yes if the kids are sick most of the time the Mom will get the bug also or at least that was how it was when my kids were little.

Vladimir

February 6th, 2014
12:33 pm

Theresa,

I’m proud of you – you’ve gone a few days now with original content (although weak) and have not cut and pasted others thoughts and ideas. Let’s see how long this amazing trend continues for I bet tomorrow it shall be cut-and-paste blog day.

Real Life

February 6th, 2014
3:07 pm

Asked my neighbor, a doctor specializing in infectious diseases, if she would do this and she said absolutely not. She said the possible side effects outweigh using the drug as a preventative in someone without the flu. And she said that as soon as the prophylactic prescription is done, that the person taking it would be just as susceptible to getting the flu as they were before taking the Tamiflu. After all, it is an anti-viral and not a vaccine.

a_mom

February 6th, 2014
4:43 pm

My kids had the nasal flu mist but both came down with the flu over Christmas. The first one was put on Tamiflu by our pediatrician. He was able to be out of bed to play with toys, but continued to run high fever of 101-102 off and on, so we also gave ibuprofen. The 2nd child got it a day later & we took her into the CVS Minute Clinic (pediatrician was closed) who confirmed it was also Flu A. She said she would definitely NOT recommend Tamiflu because this child had a seizure about 3 years ago. The warning in her literature for Tamiflu causing seizures was in bold black letters. I called the on-call pediatrician to see what we should do and was very surprised that he said to take the Tamiflu in spite of the seizure warnings and her history. I was too worried about the seizures so I decided to just treat with ibuprofen. She ended up with very mild symptoms.

A friend recommended a homeopathic treatment for flu symptoms called Boiron Oscillococcinum. She swears by it and I also see hundreds of 5-star reviews on Amazon. Tamiflu only treats the symptoms (not a “cure”) and is only supposed to shorten the flu by one day. I don’t think I’ll risk it next time for any of us.

I learned that Tamiflu carries a black box warning about hallucination and convulsion, and also states: ““People with the flu, particularly children, may be at an increased risk of self-injury and confusion shortly after taking Tamiflu and should be closely monitored for signs of unusual behavior”. Has any one of your doctors told you that you should closely monitor your child for these things while taking Tamiflu? I think that’s what bothers me most… that parents are just giving it to their kids (and themselves) without even being cautioned about the side effects.

SEE

February 6th, 2014
4:46 pm

I wonder about the doctor’s comments that the flu would have been “so much worse” if the person hadn’t had a flu shot. My son, who did not have the flu shot, caught the flu and was sick for 3 days. No one else in the family got it. (We also haven’t had flu shots.) According to this article, flu vaccines aren’t effective. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/04/08/more-proof-flu-shots-dont-work.aspx

motherjanegoose

February 6th, 2014
5:22 pm

Well, I am not a Doctor nor have any experience with Tamiflu:

2012-13 CDC guidelines recommend antivirals as an important adjunct to vaccines in the control of influenza32

Influenza antivirals are 70% to 90% effective in preventing influenza and are useful adjuncts to vaccination.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends prophylaxis with antivirals for33:

Postexposure prophylaxis for high-risk family members and close contacts of an infected individual.
Prevention for unvaccinated family members who are likely to have ongoing, close exposure to unvaccinated children at high risk (including infants and toddlers younger than 2 years of age).

Ann

February 6th, 2014
6:01 pm

@a_mom – You are right. A lot of patients are not told about side effects of this and other drugs. Many doctors just leave it up to the patient to read up on that, at home, or from the literature the pharmacist hands out. Unfortunately, doctors are often busy and oftentimes prescribe the particular medicines most pushed by the sales persons that show up at their offices.

I went to a dermatologist last year for a couple of minor skin related issues and the doctor kept pulling out various sample tubes of creams and rapidly saying what to do When I got home, I had a bag of over 10 sample creams, not knowing anything about any of them, in terms of how often to use them or what the side effects were. There was not really much thought put into which cream to give me, just tossing out samples they got for free. It’s nice to get samples, but at least with a prescription, you have some specific instructions and literature. The 2nd time this happened at that office, I complained to the nurse and asked her to write everything down.