Pregnant women are susceptible to the flu virus (influenza) because of the changes in their immune, respiratory, and cardiovascular systems (1). The best way to face it is to take preventive measures such as a vaccine when you are pregnant. But if you contract the virus, your doctor might prescribe an antiviral drug like Tamiflu.
In this post, MomJunction tells you if Tamiflu is safe during pregnancy, its side effects, and also a few precautions to help you stay away from flu when you are pregnant.
What Is Tamiflu?
Tamiflu is the brand name for oseltamivir, a drug used for treatment and prophylaxis of flu caused by the influenza virus (2).
It belongs to the class of drugs called neuraminidase inhibitors, which block the enzyme that the virus spreads (3). It is available in two major forms, capsule and liquid (oral suspension).
Can You Take Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) When Pregnant?
The US FDA has approved Tamiflu for the treatment of influenza virus during pregnancy. However, this drug belongs to Pregnancy Category C, which means that there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans (4).
Tamiflu is prescribed if the potential benefits outweigh the risks. Therefore, you should take the drug only if your physician prescribes it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends antiviral treatment to be started within 48 hours of diagnosis for pregnant women during any trimester (1).
What Could Be The Side Effects Of Tamiflu During Pregnancy?
The potential side effects of taking Tamiflu include diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting (5). These symptoms can be bothersome but will subside in a few days. Take medicine after you eat something, as it can upset the digestive system when taken on an empty stomach.
Serious side effects include allergic reactions with the following symptoms:
- Hives or rash
- Skin peeling and blisters
- Sores and blisters in the mouth
- Tightness and pain in the chest
- Difficulty talking
If you experience any of these symptoms, let your doctor know about it.
Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is unlikely to cause any adverse pregnancy or fetal outcomes. There is limited research on this aspect (6).
[ Read: Can You Take Ambien In Pregnancy? ]
How Much Tamiflu Is Safe To Take During Pregnancy?
The recommended oral dosage is one 75mg capsule two times a day, for five days or as suggested by the doctor (7).
General Precautions To Follow While Taking Tamiflu
Though it is safe to take the prescribed dosage of Tamiflu, remember the following points to stay safe (8).
- Tamiflu is not a substitute for flu vaccination.
- It is not an antibiotic drug and thus cannot be used to treat bacterial infections.
- It should always be consumed along with food or after food.
- If you have already received the nasal flu vaccination, you should wait at least two weeks before taking this drug (9).
- Treating the flu virus at the nascent stages is crucial for high-risk individuals such as pregnant women, and people with underlying health issues (heart diseases, diabetes, and weakened immune systems) (10).
- You should let your doctor know if you have a history of any disease or illness.
Ways To Prevent A Flu Infection During Pregnancy
The complications of a flu infection during pregnancy can be serious. While antiviral drugs like Tamiflu work as the second line of defense, preventive measures are always the first line of defense.
Here are a few measures recommended by the CDC (11)
- Get a flu vaccination to protect both the mother and the baby from flu (12).
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Wash your hands often to keep away from germs.
- Avoid touching your nose, eyes, or mouth if you feel your hands might be infected.
- Always clean and disinfect your surroundings, and boost your immunity by staying active and eating nutritious food.
If your doctor allows you to take Tamiflu during pregnancy, you should do take it. You will feel better once you start the course. Do not skip or stop taking it unless the doctor tells you to. But remember, this viral medication is not a substitute for the yearly flu shot.
Have you taken Tamiflu during pregnancy? Do share your experience with us in the comments section below.
2. Oseltamivir; MedlinePlus, US National Library of Medicine
3. Luciana L. Borio, Eric Toner, and John Bartlett; Overview of oseltamivir phosphate (Tamiflu®) and key points; Clinicians’ Bio security News; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
4. Treatment of influenza during pregnancy; Information by Drug Class; US Food and Drug Administration
5. Oseltamivir; Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan
6. Vera Ehrenstein, et.al.; Oseltamivir in pregnancy and birth outcomes; NCBI(2018)
7. Pregnancy and the flu; University Of Florida Health
8. Summary of product characteristics; Global Health Press
9. Questions and answers: Antiviral drugs, 2009-2010 flu season; CDC
10. Fighting flu with antiviral drugs; Diseases and Conditions, CDC
11. Healthy habits to help prevent flu; Prevent Flu, CDC
12. Pregnant women & influenza (flu); Who is at a Hight Risk for Flu Complications, CDC
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