Demand for medications rise as flu cases increase

Health experts with the CDC say this is the worst flu season they've seen in 10 years. Here's why:

Posted: Feb. 1, 2018 7:58 AM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Health experts with the CDC say this is the worst flu season they've seen in 10 years. They're comparing it to the swine flu epidemic.

Doctors try to predict what strains will be the biggest threat. Dr. John Bolinger, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Union Hospital says flu strains are hard to predict because the flu has many strains. The strains are cyclical and doctors are trying to predict which strain will come up in the cycle.

Additionally, each strain can have mutations. So they have to predict the right strain and if that strain will have any mutations. Bolinger also shares, even if a flu shot is not 100% effective, getting one can lessen the overall severity of your case of the flu.

Here’s a look at where flu cases stand nationwide:

The CDC graph shows the number of hospital visits for people with flu symptoms in the past eight years. The red line that reaches the highest point on the graph -- represents the 2017 – 2018 flu season. The other colors are years past.

This year is above the average number of visits.

As flu cases increase, so is the demand for antiviral medications. In fact, pharmacies are facing shortages right now. In some cases, they are even running out of medications, according to CBS News.

One common medication that people take to fight the cold is known as Tamiflu by its brand name. The generic form is called Ostletamvir. It's not uncommon for it to cause nausea, vomiting, headaches or pain.

But some parents are worried that Tamiflu causes confusion or abnormal behavior for children.
“Hallucinations, self-injury behavior that sort of thing. It’s not actually super clear cut whether it’s the Tamiflu that is causing that or the influenza itself,” said Dr. Amy Edwards from University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s. “Because influenza can cause something called encephalitis which is inflammation of the brain.”

Edwards says neuropsychiatric side effects usually are rare.

The makers of Tamiflu had no comment. They do say patients and children should be watched closely for changes in behavior while on the medication.

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