Fears have risen over swine flu The government has asked the public not to panic. Swine flu is generally not regarded as a fatal condition.

There is increased confusion regarding swine flu, tamiflu and any effects tamiflu may have on those with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes.

For this reason, this Tamiflu guide seeks to reassure people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes as to how the H1N1 virus be treated, what is Tamiflu is, how it affects people with diabetes and whether those with diabetes should be unduly worried.

What is Tamiflu?

Tests have shown that swine flu may be treated with antiviral medicines, including oseltamavir (Tamiflu). In the UK, this drug has already been stockpiled to treat half of the population.

What is an antiviral, and what does it do?

Antivirals are different to a vaccine in that they don’t provide a cure.

In the case of swine flu, Tamiflu helps sufferers to get better by allieviating the symptoms, reducing the illness period, and lowering the risk of serious complications.

How much Tamiflu does the UK have?

The UK has enough Tamiflu to treat 50% of the population.

At this stage, UK supplies have been ordered to create 50 million doses, enough Tamiflu to treat 80% of the population. Britain is also thought to be stockpiling an alternate antiviral, Relenza.

I am worried about swine flu and I have diabetes, will I be given Tamiflu?

In most cases, Tamiflu will only be provided to patients exhibiting symptoms of swine flu or who have been diagnosed with swine flu. Antivirals are not used to prevent swine flu cases, apart from in special circumstances.

Does Tamiflu have side effects?

Tamiflu is known to cause nausea amongst some who take it. This may be aided by taking Tamiflu with or immediately following food.

I’m worried I have swine flu and need Tamiflu, as a person with diabetes, what should I do?

In the UK, the National Pandemic Flu Service provides both diabetic and non-diabetic patients with an authorization number. This can then be used (by a flu friend – a friend or colleague who can collect medicine on behalf of those with swine flu) to collect the antivirals from a local collection point.

However, if you are in a high risk group, your GP will advise you over the phone on how to collect antivirals.

Collection points are usually pharmacies or community centers.

Should I build up a stock of Tamiflu to make sure my diabetes management isn’t affected?

The government is stockpiling antiviral medication to treat the population for swine flu.

Those who are not diagnosed with H1N1 should not stockpile antivirals.

Does Tamiflu have a sell-by date?

The government has initiated a rolling stock system to replace expired doses of Tamiflu.

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