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Tamiflu helps influenza in children moderately

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By David Liu, PHD

Sunday Jan 13, 2013 (foodconsumer.org) -- Published trials show that Tamilfu is slightly effective in preventing influenza and moderately effectively in treating influenza, according to a review in Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews.

K. Wang from Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford in Oxford, UK and colleagues reviewed published trials on the preventive and therapeutic effects on influenza viral infections of neuraminidase inhibitors oseltamivir (tamiflu) and zanamivir in children aged 12 years or younger and found that in children with laboratory-confirmed influenza, use of tamiflu reduced median duration of illness by 26% or 36 hours.
  
The study also shows that tamiflu use reduced the incidence of influenza by 8%, meaning that Tamiflu is not so effective in preventing influenza.

One trial shows that Tamiflu is almost ineffective in helping influenza in children with asthma.   Tamiflu shortened the period of illness by 10.4 hours, which was not statistically significant, meaning that Tamiflu may actually be completely ineffective in fighting influenza in children with asthma.

This review is based on published trials only (not all trials are required to be released), which can be the best trials drug companies want to prevent to the regulatory agencies and the public.

Tamiflu like all drugs has side effects.   Common adverse drug reactions (found in more than 1% of users) associated with Tamiflu include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and headache.   Rare adverse effects (found in less than 1% users) include hepatitis and elevated liver enzymes, rash, allergic reactions including anaphylaxis, and Stevens–Johnson syndrome, according to wikipedia.  "Other adverse effects reported in postmarketing surveillance include toxic epidermal ecrolysis, cardiac arrhythmia, seizure, confusion, aggravation of diabetes and hemorrhagic colitis," wikipedia states.

The most dangerous side effects may be psychological, neuropsychiatric side effects including impaired consciousness, abnormal behavior, and hallucinations, suicides in some users as evidence reported in Japan where Tamiflu is most widely used shows.  Japan issued an advisory in March 2007 that Tamiflu should not be given to those aged 10 to 19 years.  South Korea also warns against prescribing Tamiflu to teenagers.  Deaths have been linked with use of Tamiflu in Japan.
  
The European Medicines Agency ruled in March 2007 that the benefits of Tamiflu outweighed the costs.  An investigation by the British Medical Journal published in 2009 in the journal concluded  "have no confidence in claims that oseltamivir reduces the risk of complications and hospital admission in people with influenza" and believe it should not be used in routine control of seasonal influenza. There was also concern about underreporting of side effects of the drug, according to wikipedia.

Influenza poses no risk to healthy individuals who can recover without any treatment in several days after getting infected.  Treatment of mild infections like influenza can actually do more harm than good because mild infections may train the immune system to get ready for fighting more severe infectious diseases.

Vitamin C can be a good alternative to Tamiflu and other antiviral drugs indicated for treatment for influenza.  High doses of vitamin C have been found antiviral and help patients recover from the mild illness.

Vitamin D and vitamin C both may be used to help prevent influenza. Both pay a role in the immune response to infectious diseases.   Some studies have found nutrition supplementation may also help prevent influenza.

P. G. Deryabin from Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, D.I. Ivanovsky Research Institute on Virology, USA and colleagues published a study in Biofactors saying that a combination of certain nutrients may help treat influenza as effectively as Tamiflu.

In the study, a nutrient mixture consisting of lysine, proline, ascorbic acid, green tea extract, N-acetyl cysteine, selenium and other micronutrients was used against the highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza virus A/H5N1.

The nutrient mixture was found equally effective as Tamiflu in fighting influenza.  One advantage with this nutrient mixture over Tamiflu is that the nutrient combo has an inhibitory effect against influenza in late stages of the infection while Tamiflu is only effective in the early stage.

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