Asthma is a lung disease that is caused by chronic inflammation of the airways, which can result in an asthma attack. During an attack, people experience symptoms such as wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and nighttime or early morning coughing. Many things can trigger an asthma attack and one of the most common is the flu.
With flu season upon us, what impact can the flu have on those with asthma? According to the CDC, though people with asthma are not more likely to get the flu, an infection can be more serious for people with asthma, even if their asthma is mild or their symptoms are well-controlled by medication. An influenza infection can trigger asthma attacks and a worsening of asthma symptoms. It also can lead to pneumonia and other acute respiratory diseases. In fact, adults and children with asthma are more likely to develop pneumonia after getting sick with the flu than people 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.
If you have asthma, it is recommended that you get an annual influenza vaccine. Flu shots are generally recommended for people six months and older regardless of whether or not they have asthma. The flu shot has a long established safety record in people with asthma. In addition to getting the flu vaccine, proper hand-hygiene is strongly advised in order to prevent the spread of the flu.
If you do get sick with flu symptoms, speak with your doctor immediately to see if antiviral medications are an option for you. If prescribed, anti-viral drugs should be administered with 48 hours after the on-set of symptoms and can help minimize the effects of the flu. For people with asthma, this can help by reducing the risk of influenza from progressing into pneumonia or other respiratory diseases.
If you have asthma, and would like to receive a flu shot, please call Jamaica Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-206-7001 to schedule an appointment or visit our website at www.jamaicahospital.org to find our closest MediSys Family Care Center to your home.