Asthma is a chronic, obstructive disease of the lungs and having it can increase the chances of higher severity and complications from the flu. Asthma does not make a child or adult more likely to get the flu but the infection can be more serious, even with well-controlled asthma. The reason is that asthma causes swollen and sensitive airways, and the flu will cause further inflammation that cab trigger an attack. It can also increase the chances of developing pneumonia after being sick. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asthma is the most common condition in children hospitalized with the flu.
If you have asthma, it is very important to use precaution to prevent the flu:
- Everyone ages 6 months or older should get a flu vaccine.
- Since Pneumonia can be a serious complication in people with asthma, consider getting the Pneumococcal vaccine as well.
- Stay away from people who are sick and keep your child home from school when they are sick.
- Teach your child to catch coughs and sneezes into their elbow or a tissue.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing.
- Use hand sanitizer when proper hand washing is NOT available. Washing is best.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.
- Continue to follow the asthma action plan developed by your doctor or your child’s doctor.
If sickness does develop, get treated as soon as possible (within the first 48 hours). Antiviral drugs can make the flu illness milder and relive symptoms quicker. Make sure to stay hydrated and get as much rest as possible.
Take steps to prevent the flu and remain healthy!