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The flu and asthma

If you have asthma, it doesn't mean that you are more likely to catch the flu. However, you are at higher risk for flu complications and severe infection. This is because your airways are swollen and sensitive and the flu virus can cause more inflammation of the airways and lungs.

Having the flu can trigger asthma attacks and worsen asthma symptoms. Flu complications include pneumonia and other acute respiratory (breathing) problems.

People with asthma aren't the only ones who are at high risk for flu complications and severe infection. People with diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems, and many others with chronic medical conditions are also at risk. Are you at risk for flu complications?

There are a few steps you can take to protect yourself from the flu:

  • Wash your hands properly (at least 20 seconds with soap and water) and frequently. If you don't have any soap or water nearby, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid crowds and stay home if you think you have the flu.
  • Cough and sneeze into your arm (not your hand!).
  • Eat healthy and get regular exercise to keep your immune system strong.
  • Get vaccinated. Your doctor may recommend you get the yearly flu vaccine and the pneumococcal vaccine.
  • Manage your asthma. Take your medication as directed, avoid your triggers, and follow the asthma action plan as recommended by your health care provider. If you are not sure how to use your inhaler(s), ask your health care provider to review them with you.
  • Encourage other members in your household to get the yearly flu vaccine.

If you do end up catching the flu, it's important to see your doctor as soon as you notice the first signs of flu symptoms. Common flu symptoms in the first 4 days of getting the flu include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • muscle aches and pain

Don't wait until your symptoms worsen. People with asthma should see their doctor as soon as possible so that they can begin treatment. If it's identified early on, your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce the risk of your flu worsening. Regardless, it is important to get plenty of rest and to stay hydrated. If you would like to obtain an over-the-counter product for your fever or muscle aches, speak to your pharmacist to find the right treatment for you.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

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