General Practice 2022

Zanamivir (Relenza): what is it for and how to take it

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Zanamivir (Relenza): what is it for and how to take it
Zanamivir (Relenza): what is it for and how to take it
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Zanamivir is an antiviral drug indicated for the treatment of influenza caused by influenza A and B viruses, including influenza A H1N1 or H3N2 viruses, as it acts by blocking the action of these viruses, preventing them from spreading through the body, which helps relieve symptoms and speed recovery.

In addition, zanamivir can also be used to prevent influenza in people who have had close contact with a person infected with influenza A or B viruses. However, this drug does not replace the flu vaccine and does not treat the common cold. Know when to get the flu shot.

This drug can be found under the trade name Relenza, in powder form, containing 5 mg of zanamivir per dose, to be inhaled through the mouth into the lungs, and should only be used with medical indication.

What is it for

Zanamivir is indicated for the treatment of influenza, influenza A or B viruses, including Influenza A virus H1N1 or H3N2, or to reduce the duration of their symptoms, in adults and children over 5 years of age.

This remedy is also indicated for preventing influenza in people who have had close contact with a person infected with influenza A or B viruses, but who still do not have symptoms.

Importantly, zanamivir does not replace the flu vaccine and should not be used to treat the common cold.

How to use

Zanamivir should be used by oral inhalation, using the device provided in the package. It is important to note that zanamivir must not be used in nebulizers and must not be mixed with water or any other type of liquid.

How to use zanamivir varies by indication and includes:

1. Flu treatment

Treatment with zanamivir for influenza should be started within 48 hours of symptom onset in adults, and within 36 hours of symptom onset in children over 5 years.

The doses normally recommended for adults or children over 5 years are 2 inhalations, twice a day, that is, every 12 hours (morning and evening), for 5 days. The maximum recommended dose per day is 20 mg.

If starting treatment with zanamivir in the afternoon, the second dose should be taken on the same day, but it is important to allow at least 2 hours between doses.

Furthermore, if other inhaled drugs such as bronchodilators are used and the time of administration coincides with zanamivir, it is advisable to use these drugs before zanamivir.

2. Flu prevention

For influenza prevention, treatment with zanamivir should be started within two days of contact with an infected person.

The doses normally recommended to help prevent the flu, in adults and children over 5 years, are 2 inhalations, once a day, that is, every 24 hours, for 10 days. The maximum daily dose of zanamivir should not exceed 10 mg.

Also, if there is an outbreak of influenza in the community, the doctor may recommend 2 puffs, once a day, for up to 28 days.

Possible side effects

Some of the side effects that may occur during treatment with zanamivir are headache, nausea, vomiting, body pain or coughing.

Zanamivir can cause severe breathing problems, wheezing and feeling faint. In this case, you should stop using it immediately and seek medical help or the nearest emergency room.

In children, one should be aware of changes in mood or behavior that should be reported immediately to the pediatrician such as mental confusion, tremors, unusual behavior or hallucinations, such as hearing or seeing things that are not there.

Zanamivir can cause severe allergic reactions that require immediate medical attention. Therefore, you should stop treatment and seek the nearest emergency department if you experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, cough, chest pain, feeling of a closed throat, swelling in the mouth, tongue or face, or hives. Know how to identify the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction.

Who should not use

Zanamivir should not be used by children under 5 years of age, by pregnant or breastfeeding women, or by people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or who are allergic to zanamivir or any other component of the formula.

In addition, this remedy contains lactose in its composition and should not be used by people who have a severe allergy to milk proteins.

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