The flu is a contagious respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses. When it gets into your body, the respiratory virus can cause mild to severe illness. Sometimes, it can be life-threatening. The flu can directly impact your lungs, leading to a respiratory infection or worsening of existing lung disease when dealing with asthma. It can also give rise to inflammation (swelling) and narrowing of your airways. These changes could contribute to asthma symptoms. If you have a breathing problem like asthma, protecting yourself against the flu is crucial.
Most people recover from the flu without complications. However, those with asthma, lung infection, or upper respiratory tract infection are at high risk of developing serious health issues from the flu.
Here is the advice for fighting the flu if you have asthma:
- Take your flu shot yearly: The flu spreads from fall through spring. People who are six months and older must receive their flu shot.
- Be sure to get a flu shot if you have a history of asthma.
- Prevent exposure: The flu can be extremely contagious. Wash your hands often, avoid touching your face, and do not share food and utensils. If possible, avoid encountering people who are sick. Wearing a mask may help prevent exposure when you are in close contact with people who are ill.
- Speak to a health care specialist: Asthma patients need to update their action plan with their health care professional so that it will be easy for them to take appropriate action if they get sick. This may involve changing their asthma treatment (asthma medications or the dose and timing of medicines).
- If you get sick with flu symptoms, speak to your healthcare specialist immediately: People with asthma can quickly get ill with the flu. Your healthcare provider may recommend an antiviral drug or change your asthma treatment plan.
While you are sick, be sure to carry your quick-relief medicines all the time. These medicines help provide relief from sudden asthma attacks. You may be prescribed an asthma inhaler for long-term management of asthma symptoms. You should also carry them even if you don’t have flu. Rest, drink enough water, and avoid alcohol and tobacco consumption to ease your symptoms. Talk to your healthcare provider if they recommend any over-the-counter medicines to help relieve symptoms. And be sure to get immediate medical help if you begin to have emergency flu symptoms.
Common flu symptoms
The flu symptoms occur suddenly and may include fever, headache, constant cough, extreme tiredness, chills, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, and body aches in bones and muscles. Vomiting and diarrhoea are commonly reported in children. These signs and symptoms are referred to as flu-like symptoms. Common cold symptoms and RSV symptoms are like flu symptoms or may be confusing.
Serious symptoms of the flu that require immediate medical attention!
Seek immediate medical attention if you develop the following signs and symptoms:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Cyanosis is a bluish skin discolouration because of poor blood flow or inadequate oxygenation.
- Not waking up or not remaining conscious
- Irritating behaviour
- Flu-like symptoms appear to improve but return with worsening fever and cough.
- Fever accompanied by a rash.
- Rapid or difficult breathing
- Sudden dizziness
- Pain in the chest or abdomen
- Seever or persistent vomiting
Who should receive the flu vaccine?
- Six months and older people must get a flu shot every year.
- You can safely receive a flu vaccine if you have an egg allergy. You can receive the vaccine shot even if you have had a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis in the past.
A flu shot or nasal spray: What works best?
- Children six months to 4 years old will always be advised to get a vaccine.
- Those 4 to 49 years old with well-controlled asthma symptoms can get the flu shot or nasal spray.
- People aged 4 to 49 with recent asthma flare-ups or wheezing episodes must receive the flu shot.
- People 50 years and older should get the flu shot whether they have asthma.
Who is not a suitable candidate to get the flu vaccine?
- Children younger than six months are too young to receive a flu vaccine.
- You should receive the vaccine if you have severe allergies to any ingredient in a flu vaccine (other than egg proteins).
- If you have a latex allergy or have a history of allergic reactions to the flu vaccine, talk to your doctor before getting a flu vaccine.
- The flu is contagious, while asthma is not. The flu spreads from sneezing and coughing. It usually spreads from one individual to another. You can also get the flu by touching something with the flu virus and then touching your nose or mouth. This is why it is important to prevent the flu by receiving flu shots.
Prevention goes a long way during the season of flu. Along with these steps, please speak to your healthcare specialist before flu season peaks or for more information on how you can both work to prevent and deal with this respiratory infection if you get it.