The rampant spreading of COVID-19 makes this year’s flu season particularly intimidating. For those with asthma, this flu season could prove to be even more challenging. Fortunately, many of the precautions you take to protect yourself from COVID-19 can also help protect you from the flu.
How Does the Flu Affect Asthma?
While asthma and the flu are two different ailments, they both result in inflamed airways. Since asthma sufferers already battle sensitive lungs, inflammation caused by the flu can result in serious asthma attacks, prolonged breathing issues, and other illnesses such as pneumonia.
In cases of severe asthma, the flu can even be deadly. Whether you suffer from minor or extreme asthma, it is important to be on guard against the flu at all times – especially during flu season!
How Can You Protect Yourself from the Flu?
As an asthma sufferer, the best defense against influenza is still a yearly flu vaccine. While doctors recommend that everyone able to receive a vaccine does so, it is even more important that asthmatics stay on top of their annual shot. Flu vaccines are performed in several different ways.
With permission from your doctor, you can receive your flu shot through an injection. Injections are safe and typical for flu vaccines, asthmatic or not.
2. Nasal Sprays
Vaccination through nasal spray is another option but is generally not recommended for asthma sufferers. In some cases, it can cause a wheezing reaction in young children or in those who battle asthma.
Before getting your flu shot, you should consult with your doctor to ensure you do what is best for your particular case of asthma.
Other Ways to Avoid the Flu
While keeping your flu vaccine up-to-date is the primary way of protecting your health, don’t forget to clean and sanitize your home regularly, wash your hands, and be careful where you go. Luckily, you’ve probably been doing that even more than usual this year.
You can also guard against the flu by employing the following tips:
1. Know your symptoms.
Keeping track of your triggers and symptoms can help you know the difference between an asthma attack and flu symptoms. Flu symptoms typically include sinus and throat problems, chills, aches, fever, exhaustion, and stomach issues.
2. Be prepared.
Since the flu can worsen lung inflammation, it is important that you have a plan in place for fast asthma treatment. Speak to your doctor about what medications you should take and when you should take them.
3. Don’t be afraid to call your doctor.
If you think you might have the flu or aren’t sure how to best avoid it, do not hesitate to call your doctor or set up an appointment. Working as a team with your doctor allows you to take preventative measures against health risks and better care for your asthma.
4. Wear your mask.
Yes, wearing your mask not only prevents the spreading of COVID-19 bacteria, but it also prevents the spreading of the flu. You might remember wearing a mask inside the doctor’s office during past flu seasons. This is because it blocks large particles (usually in your saliva) from touching various surfaces that may encourage the germs to spread.
Download Aluna’s Asthma Action Plan!
One of the best ways to maintain your asthma and protect against the flu, pneumonia, etc. is to track your symptoms with an asthma action plan. Learn to recognize your triggers and prevent attacks.
Common Questions About the Flu & Asthma
1. Why is the flu bad for asthmatics?
Asthmatics have sensitive airways that are swollen. The flu can cause further inflammation to lungs and airways and can even cause more or worse asthma symptoms. There is also the possibility that the flu can worsen an asthmatic’s respiratory system so they are more likely to get pneumonia or other acute respiratory diseases.
2. What to do if you have asthma and get the flu?
The best way to deal with the flu if you have asthma is to avoid getting it. However, that is not always possible. If you do get the flu, contact your doctor right away, so they can help you determine if you need any medications and how to best deal with the flu symptoms. While dealing with the flu, avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other pollutants that could cause an asthma attack.
3. Does asthma make the flu worse?
Yes, the flu is worse for those who have asthma. This is because the symptoms of the flu also affect the respiratory system. The inflamed respiratory system now has to deal with asthmatic symptoms worsened by flu symptoms. Should you get a flu shot if you have asthma?
It is recommended that those who have asthma get a flu shot each year. This is because the flu symptoms are worse for asthmatics since it also attacks the respiratory system.
4. Can asthma cause the flu?
Asthma does not cause the flu. However, those who have asthma are likely to have worsened symptoms of the flu, if they contract it.