Asthma and the Flu

Asthma Management

​Asthma and the Flu

If you have asthma, common respiratory viral infections like the flu (influenza) can be much more dangerous to your health and well-being – even if your asthma is mild or your symptoms are well-controlled. You are also at a greater risk of developing complications after contracting the flu. This is because your airways are already swollen and sensitive.

The flu can cause further inflammation of your airways and lungs. It can also trigger asthma attacks, worsen your asthma symptoms and lead to pneumonia and other respiratory diseases. Adults and children who have asthma are more likely to develop pneumonia after getting sick with the flu than those who do not have asthma. Asthma is the most common medical condition among children hospitalized with the flu and one of the more common medical conditions among hospitalized adults.

Take Steps to Prevent the Flu

Unlike other respiratory viral illnesses, the flu is preventable. If you have asthma, you need to take steps to prevent the flu:

  • Everyone who has asthma and is six months or older should get a flu vaccine in October or November, when flu season usually begins. If you have flu symptoms, call your physician immediately for advice on how to prevent your asthma symptoms from worsening. Asthma symptoms that should cause concern include:

    • Increased shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or wheezing

    • Coughing up increased amounts of mucus

    • Yellow- or green-colored mucus

    • Fever (temperature greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)

    • Increased fatigue or weakness, body aches or sore muscles

    • Sore throat, scratchy throat or pain when swallowing

    • Runny or stuffy nose

    • Sinus drainage, nasal congestion, headaches or tenderness along your upper cheekbones

  • Proper hygiene can decrease your chance of viral infections such as the flu:

    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not into your bare hands.

    • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing, to prevent spreading germ.

    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth (germs spread that way)

    • Keep your breathing equipment clean, including your asthma inhaler, and asthma nebulizer  tubing and mouthpiece.

    • Do not let others use your asthma medication or asthma treatment

  • Follow an updated Asthma Action Plan you develop with your physician. Follow this plan to help your control asthma and minimize worsening symptoms and attacks. If your child has asthma, make sure that his or her updated Asthma Action Plan is on file at school or at your daycare center, and make certain the plan and medication(s) are easy to access when needed.

Many people with asthma do not realize how important it is to get a flu vaccine each year. If you or your loved one has asthma, it is important that you call your physician today and ask about getting a flu vaccine to prevent asthma symptoms. You and your family will be glad you took this preventive step.



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