Doctors warn about side effects of flu-shortening drugs

Tamiflu could cause hives, redness, itching, swelling of face, tongue

By Kristi Krueger - Anchor/Health Reporter

MIAMI - As both a mom and pediatrician, Pilar Bruederlin is a fan of the flu shot, but before she could vaccinate her daughter Camilla, the 3-year-old got sick.

"[She had a] runny nose and she had high fever. It was difficult for her to get that fever down," said Bruederlin

Bruederlin decided to give her daughter Tamiflu, a drug intended to shorten the duration of flu symptoms.

"By getting faster through symptoms, then it reduces the chances to get complications out of the influenza," Bruederlin said.

"Taking Tamiflu for people in the appropriate setting where they've been exposed or could've been exposed to someone that has the flu could work but beware. It does have side effects," said Dr. El Sanadi, chief of emergency medicine at Broward Health.

By the third of 10 doses, Camilla had broken out in hives.

"I just didn't give that fourth dose," said Bruederlin. "As a pediatrician, I knew it could get worse."

Side effects from Tamiflu include hives, redness, severe itching and swelling of the face and tongue, which could compromise airways.

"There could hallucinations -- a smaller percentage of patients get that -- there could be cardiac effects, there could be other effects on the liver and kidneys," said Sanadi.

Sanadi said patients need to discuss the risks and benefits of the drug with their doctor.

In Camilla's case, anti-histamines and anti-inflammatory medications helped ease the symptoms and was back to her happy, playful self within a week.

It's important to remember if you see any adverse reaction to any medication that you stop the drug and get to your doctor or the emergency room right away.

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