The cough, fever, and muscle aches that come with the flu will knock anyone out of commission. But for people with respiratory illness like asthma, the flu is more likely to come with serious complications.
What makes the flu worse with asthma?
As a respiratory infection, effects of the flu are especially felt in the throat and lungs. People with asthma are already prone to inflamed airways and bronchial spasms, and the flu may worsen asthma symptoms or trigger attacks.
People with asthma are also more likely to develop pneumonia, an infection where air sacs in the lungs become filled with fluid. Developing pneumonia can lead to further complications like difficulty breathing, fluid around the lungs, or bacteria entering the bloodstream.
Ways to Prevent the Flu
1. Get vaccinated. A yearly flu shot is the most reliable way to reduce your chances of getting the flu, and helps protect those who are too young or too ill to be vaccinated. The specific viral strains in the vaccine can differ from year to year, which is why it’s important to be immunized at the beginning of each flu season.Injectable vaccines are recommended for people with asthma, as nasal spray versions of the vaccine may cause wheezing or other asthma symptoms.
2. Wash your hands. Frequent hand washing helps to prevent the spread of disease from person to person.
3. Avoid touching your eyes and mouth. This helps infecting agents enter your body, and includes biting your nails.
4. Avoid people who are sick. Even when everyone is practicing excellent hand hygiene, microscopic droplets are spread through the air when we cough, sneeze, and talk. For people with asthma, the best solution is to keep away from sick people unless absolutely necessary.
5. Drink less. Alcohol abuse or daily drinking can weaken the immune system, making you more likely to contract the flu.
6. Carry pens. You may be good about keeping your hands from touching door knobs and taps in public areas, but shared pens in offices and reception desks are an overlooked habitat where germs thrive.
7. Get enough sleep. Most adults need between 7–9 hours per night. Our immune systems release protective cytokines while we sleep that can help fight infection and inflammation. Lack of sleep also decreases cells that help fight off viruses.
Will the Flu Vaccine Make me Sick?
Some people avoid the flu vaccine for fear it will make them sick. But the injectable vaccine is made from an inactivated virus that can’t infect you. While nasal spray versions are created with a live virus, they’ve been modified to help build immunity without causing a full infection. Some people may have mild flu symptoms after receiving the nasal mist, but this isn’t the same as full-blown influenza.
Getting the shot won’t make you sick, but it also doesn’t guarantee you won’t come down with the flu. The flu vaccine is estimated to reduce risk of illness by 40–60%. Whether you get sick depends on many things, including your personal reaction to the shot and which specific viruses are circulating that season.
How to Manage Asthma and Flu
1. See your doctor
- Most people recover from the flu without medical intervention. Asthmatics and other people at higher risk of complications should visit their doctor as soon as symptoms begin.
- Don’t wait! The antiviral drugs that your doctor may prescribe work best if started within 2 days of becoming sick.
- Your doctor can also check for signs of complications like pneumonia, and may have advice on how to adjust your asthma medication to prevent flu complications.
2. Monitor your asthma. Use devices like a peak flow meter to keep track of asthma management while you’re sick.
3. Seek medical attention if you experience these emergency signs:
- Difficulty breathing
- Sudden Dizziness
- Chest pain
- Severe vomiting
People with asthma aren’t more likely to get the flu, but it can be more serious when they do. On top of getting vaccinated and practicing good hygiene, you can protect yourself by keeping your asthma well controlled. With lower prices on popular asthma drugs like Advair and Flovent, CanadianMedCenter.com can help treat your asthma for less. Click here to search for your medication, view prices, or place an order today.
DISCLAIMER: The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.