Zanamivir is used to treat symptoms caused by the flu virus (influenza) if you have had symptoms for 2 days or less. It helps lessen symptoms (such as stuffy nose, cough, sore throat, fever/chills, headache, body aches, tiredness) and shortens the recovery time by about 1 to 2 days.
Zanamivir is also used to prevent the flu if you have been exposed to someone who already has the flu (such as a sick household member) or if there is a flu outbreak in the community.
If you have the flu, zanamivir does not reduce the risk of giving the flu to others.
Read the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start using zanamivir and each time you get a refill. Learn all usage instructions. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
For flu treatment: inhale this medication through your mouth as directed by your doctor, usually 2 inhalations (1 blister per inhalation) twice a day (about 12 hours apart) for 5 days. If possible, on the first day of treatment, take two doses (2 inhalations each), waiting at least 2 hours between doses.
For flu prevention: inhale this medication through your mouth as directed by your doctor, usually 2 inhalations (1 blister per inhalation) once a day. The usual length of time you will take zanamivir is 10 days if there is a sick household member or 28 days if there is a flu outbreak in the community, or as directed by your doctor.
Remove the cover on the disk inhaler. Before use, check the mouthpiece to be sure it is clean and free of particles. Load the medication disk into the disk inhaler. Puncture one medication blister. Keep the disk inhaler level so that the medication will not spill out. Breathe out all the way through your mouth, put the mouthpiece into your mouth, and breathe in through your mouth as deeply as you can. This will draw the medication into your lungs. Hold your breath for a few seconds. To take another inhalation, advance to the next medication blister and repeat the process. Replace the cover of the disk inhaler.
Do not mix this powder medication with any liquids, including nebulizer liquids.
If a child is using this medication, a parent or other responsible adult should supervise the child to make sure it is used properly.
Start zanamivir as soon as possible. This medication works best when the amount of medicine in your body is kept at a constant level. Therefore, use this drug at evenly spaced intervals at the same time(s) every day.
Continue to use this medication for the full time prescribed, even if symptoms improve. Stopping the medication too early may result in a return of the infection, or failure to protect you from the flu.
If you have breathing problems (such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD) and are scheduled to use inhaled bronchodilators (such as albuterol) at the same time as zanamivir, use the bronchodilator medication before using zanamivir. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
Tell your doctor if your condition persists or worsens or if new symptoms appear.
Dizziness may occur. Also, because this medication is an inhaled powder, you may experience increased coughing after using it. If either of these effects persists or worsens, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
This medication can cause breathing problems, which in rare cases can be fatal. If you experience trouble breathing such as wheezing or shortness of breath, stop using zanamivir and get medical help right away. Zanamivir is not recommended if you have lung/breathing problems. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. However, if your doctor decides you should use zanamivir, have a quick-relief inhaled bronchodilator (such as albuterol inhaler) readily available.
The flu itself or zanamivir may rarely cause serious mental/mood changes. This may be more likely in children. Tell your doctor right away of any signs of unusual behavior, including confusion, agitation, self-injury.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before using zanamivir, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients (such as lactose, milk proteins), which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: lung or breathing problems (such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD).
This drug may make you dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit alcoholic beverages.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
This drug may be less effective for young children. They may be unable to breathe in deeply enough using this inhaler device to get enough drug to benefit them.
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Tell your doctor if you have received flu vaccine in the nose in the past 2 weeks. If given too closely together, zanamivir may interfere with the protection from flu vaccine given in the nose. Wait at least 2 days after the end of zanamivir treatment before receiving flu vaccine given in the nose.
If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Do not share this medication with others.
This medication has been prescribed for your current condition only. Do not use it later for another infection unless told to do so by your doctor. A different medication may be necessary in that case.
This medication is not a substitute for the flu vaccine. Consult your doctor about the risks and important benefits of receiving a yearly flu shot to lower your chances of getting the flu.
If you miss a dose, use it as soon as you remember. Do not use the missed dose if it is within 2 hours of your next dose. In that case, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Store at room temperature in a dry place. Do not puncture the foil blister until you are ready to take your dose. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.
Information last revised March 2013. Copyright(c) 2013 First Databank, Inc.
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