Zanamivir is a prescription approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is a type of medicine called a neuraminidase inhibitor used to treat and prevent influenza type A or B. Zanamivir helps stops the flu virus from spreading around the body. This medication is usually used in adults and children aged five years and over.
Influenzais a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system. For most people,influenza resolves on its own. Initially, the flu may seem like a common cold.But, colds usually develop slowly whereas the flu tends to come on suddenly.The common signs and symptoms of influenza are:
- Aching muscles
- Chills and sweats
- Dry and persistent cough
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- Fever over 100.4 F or 38 C
People athigher risk of developing flu complications may include:
- Adults older than age 65
- Young children under age 5
- Pregnant women
- Residents of nursing homes
- People with a weakened immune system
- People who are very obese
- People with chronic illnesses (diabetes, asthma, kidney/liver disease, or heart disease)
Fluviruses travel through the air in droplets when someone with the infectionsneezes or coughs. You can inhale the droplets directly or you can pick up thegerms from an object. People with viruses are likely contagious from the day orso before symptoms first appear. The viruses of influenza are constantlychanging with new strains appearing regularly. If you’ve had influenza in thepast, your body has already made antibodies to fight that particular strain ofthe virus. If future influenza viruses are similar to those you’ve encounteredbefore, those antibodies may prevent infection or lessen its severity. It’seither by having the disease or by being vaccinated. But, antibodies againstflu viruses you’ve encountered in the past can’t protect you from new influenzastrains. Those can be very different immunologically from what you hadbefore.
How doesZanamivir work for flu?
When theflu virus enters the body, it invades cells in the airways. Wherein, itreplicates to form lots of new copies of the virus. The new copies of the virusleave the first cells and move on to infect neighboring cells. It is whereexactly the process is being repeated. After a couple of days, enough cellshave been infected that the patient feels flu symptoms. The symptoms usuallycontinue for about a week until the immune system of the body kills thevirus.
To leaveone cell and infect another, the flu virus uses a chemical helper called neuraminidase.Zanamivir works by stopping this chemical helper from working. Without it,newly formed copied of the virus can’t leave the infected cells to infect othercells. This prevents the flu virus from spreading and so confines the infectionto a smaller area. This makes the symptoms of the infection less severe. Italso makes it easier for the immune system of the body to kill the virus.
How touse Zanamivir?
Inhalethis medication through your mouth usually 2 inhalations twice a day for 5 daysor as directed by your doctor. If possible, on the first day of treatment, taketwo doses, waiting at least 2 hours between doses.
Inhalethe medication by your mouth usually 2 inhalations once a day or as directed byyour doctor. The usual length time of this medicine that you will take is 10days if there is a sick household member.
Removethe cover on the disk inhaler. Before use, check the mouthpiece to be sure itis clean and free of particles. Load the medication disk into the disk inhaler.Puncture one medication blister. Keep the disk inhaler level so that themedication will not spill out. Breathe out through your mouth, put themouthpiece into your mouth, and breathe in through your mouth as deeply as youcan. This will draw the medication into your lungs. Hold your breath for a fewseconds. To take another inhalation, advance to the next medication blister andrepeat the process. Replace the cover of the disk inhaler. Carefully read themanufacturer’s instructions that describe how to prepare and inhale a dose ofZanamivir using the disk inhaler. Be sure to ask your doctor if you have anyquestions about how to prepare or inhale this medication.
What arethe side effects?
- Ear pain
- Trouble breathing
- Cold symptoms such as sneezing, stuffy nose, or sore throat
Call yourdoctor right away if you have these serious side effects:
- Trouble speaking
- Sudden confusion
- Tremors or shaking
- Nasal irritation
- Ear, nose, and throat infections
- Sudden unusual changes in mood or behavior
- For some people, Zanamivir may cause the airways to narrow after it has been inhaled which makes breathing difficult. If this happens, stop using Zanamivir and call your doctor right away.
- If you suffer from COPD or asthma and using a regular bronchodilator, you use it before inhaling your dose of Zanamivir. You should have your reliever at hand when you are taking this drug.
- This medication should not be used as a substitute for being vaccinated against seasonal flu.
- Zanamivir may be prescribed to women who are pregnant in situations where the potential benefit of taking the medicine outweighs any potential risks. Your doctor can give you more information on what we know about the safety of Zanamivir during pregnancy.
- Zanamivir may pass into breast milk in very small amounts. This prescription may be prescribed to women who are breastfeeding if the potential benefit to the mother outweighs any potential risk to the nursing infant. Ask your doctor for advice if you are breastfeeding.
- Tell your doctor what prescription and non-prescription medications, nutritional supplements, vitamins, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- If you forget to inhale a dose, inhale it as soon as you remember it. If it is 2 hours or less until the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not inhale a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you miss several doses, call your doctor to find out what to do.