The Flu and Medical ConditionsThe flu and asthma
If you have asthma, it doesn't mean that you are more likely to catch the flu. However, you are at 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.
- Avoid crowds, and stay home if you think you have the flu.
- Cough and sneeze into your arm (not your hand!).
- Eat healthy foods 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, avoid your triggers, and follow the asthma action plan as recommended by your health care provider.
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. Don't wait until your symptoms worsen. People with asthma should see their doctor as soon as possible so that they can begin treatment. Early treatment with antiviral medication can help reduce the risk of flu complications. Talk to your doctor using the Seasonal Flu Doctor Discussion Guide.
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