Doctors warn people not to take Tamiflu if they don't have the flu

Posted at 4:18 PM, Feb 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-06 16:39:26-05

Doctors are warning not to take Tamiflu unless you really have the flu. Tamiflu is one of the most prescribed medications to battle the flu, but doctors at Beaumont Hospital say it's not for everyone.

Dr. Paul Chittick explained, "It's the worst flu season we've probably had in the last decade."

It's no surprise that people are on the lookout for flu symptoms. Dr. Paul Chittick specializes in infectious disease and says Tamiflu only treats influenza.

He says many patients ask for the drug for preventative measures or to battle flu-like symptoms, but that's not how Tamiflu works.

"Thinking they have influenza, and even if they don't, wanting a prescription for something."

Dr. Chittick says there is no benefit to taking Tamiflu if you don't have influenza. He explained taking antibiotics or antiviral drugs unnecessarily could lead to bacteria and viruses becoming more resistant.

"If you don't have influenza, Tamiflu is not going to be any benefit, all you are getting from the drug are the risks," he said. "Because all you are getting exposed to are side effects."

Different type of illnesses mimic the flu, like the adenovirus, but Tamiflu won't treat that. There is at least one way to be sure you have the flu.

"Standard test is a swab that goes in your nose and tickles the back of your throat." 

Dr. Chittick says it's not too late to get a flu shot. If you are sick, he says stay home so you won't spread it.