Influenza

Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is a disease of the lungs and upper airways caused by infection with a flu virus. The most common symptoms of the disease are chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort.

There is currently a higher demand for the anti-viral Tamiflu and for information about the flu due to the current swine flu outbreak (which refers to the spread of a new strain of H1N1 influenza virus that was first detected in humans by public health agencies in Mexico, March 2009).

Following an online consultation with our GMC and EU-registered doctors, PharmaDoctor can provide you with an online prescription for Tamiflu, The number 1 doctor-prescribed flu medicine for flu treatment and prevention

What is it?

Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) is a prescription medication for treatment and prevention of the flu in adults and children aged 1 year and older.

How does it work?

It works by stopping the virus sticking onto cells in the upper respiratory tract. Normally the virus then reproduces, but neuraminidase inhibitors stop that happening.

Tamiflu from the NHS

The government is stock piling courses of Tamiflu and will only be despensing them to people who have been infected with Swine Flu and to people who have come into direct contact with infected persons. Anyone showing symptoms should stay at home and ring their GP for further advice. To obtain treatment you are requested to call The Swine Flu Information Line on 0800 1 513 513.

Main points to consider

  • For flu treatment: When taken within two days of experiencing symptoms, Tamiflu works by helping to stop the flu virus from spreading inside the body
  • For flu prevention: When you have been exposed to someone with the flu, taking Tamiflu can help keep the virus from making you sick
  • Tamiflu is available in capsules and a liquid form for young children and mature populations who may have difficulty swallowing a capsule. Dosing instructions vary for adults and children, and for taking Tamiflu for prevention or treatment.

For further Information please read the Patient Information Leaflet carefully

What is it?

Relenza (zanamivir) is a prescription inhalation powder for the treatment and prevention of influenza in adults and children.

How does it work?

Relenza works by preventing the cell to cell spread of viral flu infection. It does this by blocking neuraminidase, an enzyme found on the surface of the virus which helps it to move from cell to cell. In preventing the spread of infection Relenza helps to manage the symptoms of flu and makes it easier for the body’s immune system to fight the virus.

Main points to consider

  • For flu treatment: When taken within two days (adults) or 36 hours (children) of experiencing symptoms, Relenza works by helping to stop the flu virus from spreading inside the body
  • For flu prevention: When you have been exposed to someone with the flu, taking Relenza within 36 hours of contact can help keep the virus from making you sick
  • Relenza comes in powder form and is taken using a device called a diskhaler. By using the diskhaler the medication can be effectively administered so it is deposited in the throat, airways and lungs – the areas where the virus enters the body and from where it reproduces and spreads.

For further Information please read the Patient Information Leaflet carefully

Swine influenza (or flu) is normally found in pigs, but does occasionally occur in humans. The 2009 strain of swine flu, is known as novel influenza A (H1N1). Since this new strain first appeared in Mexico, there has since been a growing number of cases reported around the world including the UK.

Swine flu is highly contagious. Symptoms begin within two days of exposure, at which point the person is most infectious. They are very similar to those produced by seasonal flu, including: high fever (usually above 38 oC), cough, sore throat, headache, aching muscles, chills and shivers despite fever, Exhaustion or fatigue. Diarrhoea or a stomach upset have been a particular feature of swine flu

Pandemic Advice

If you think you have developed flu-like symptoms, you should stay at home and avoid contact with other people. Call your doctor to discuss your symptoms – they may decide to come and take samples from you. It's important to tell them if you have recently been in contact with someone else with flu or if you have recently travelled abroad.

You may be prescribed anti-viral medication such as Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) or Relenza (Zanamivir). Swine flu seems to respond to these medicines in the same way as seasonal flu. The treatments are not a cure but can reduce the risk of infection for those who have been exposed to the virus, reduce the ability of a person with the virus to pass it on, and shorten the course of the illness when someone has flu. Most importantly these drugs treatments reduce the risk of serious complications and death. For maximum effect, the drugs should be given as early as possible to someone who has the flu.

For Tamiflu

 


About Influenza

The flu is a contagious virus that is spread from one person to another through tiny droplets that are released into the air when a person infected with the flu coughs or sneezes. Sometimes, people can become infected by touching their nose or mouth after touching something infected by the flu virus.

Everyone is at risk from the influenza virus. However, the chances of becoming infected with the influenza virus rise significantly at certain times of year and for certain sectors of society.

Most people find it difficult to tell the difference between flu symptoms and cold symptoms. The flu is generally more severe and the symptoms come on a lot quicker. Symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, cough, sore throat and muscle aches. When someone has a cold, they're still able to get about and usually recover fully after about a week. Flu can cause serious complications, including pneumonia, and can even be fatal.

The Department of Health's Catch it, Bin it, Kill it! adverts urge people to cover coughs and sneezes with tissues, throw them away and wash their hands.

  • COVER YOUR MOUTH. When you cough or sneeze cover your mouth with a tissue. Germs can survive for hours on a surface but not on a tissue.
  • WASH YOUR HANDS REGULARLY. The most common way that people catch colds and the flu is by rubbing their nose or their eyes after their hands have been contaminated with a virus. Wash your hands and routinely clean and disinfect surfaces, toys, and objects that younger children may put in their mouths.
  • STAY AT HOME IF YOU ARE SICK. Avoid close contact with people if you are experiencing any symptoms such as a fever.