What You Need to Know About the Flu and Asthma This Season.

What You Need to Know About the Flu and Asthma This Season

Fall is just around the corner and the kids are back in school once again. In my area, the aspen leaves are even starting to turn yellow already!

With this time of year, we begin to focus once again on the upcoming flu season. Flu season most years tends to peak between December and February. However, it’s not unusual for flu activity to be seen as early as October and November. Most flu activity declines by early spring, but it can last as long as May. Of course, this can vary, depending on where in the world you live.

It can be difficult to predict, the types of flu viruses that will circulate and their severity each year. But communicable disease experts do their best, based on past trends.

What You Need to Know About the Flu If You Have Asthma

Asthma is a respiratory illness. Influenza, commonly called the flu, is as well. So, when your airways are already compromised from asthma, it’s not a good idea for you to get the flu on top it. Some have called this a “double whammy.” The respiratory inflammation from a flu infection will cause asthma flare-ups and an overall worsening of your health. It might even cause you to have a hospital stay and serious complications. In some cases, death might even result from getting the flu with asthma.

In fact, a study out of Canada revealed that there is a 40% chance that asthma treatment will not relieve symptoms in the presence of the flu.

But there is a simple solution: people with asthma are strongly encouraged to get a flu shot every year. Try to get your shot in before the end of October, if you can. If you must get your flu vaccine after that, you’ll still benefit. Although it may not fully protect you from getting the flu, it will help you get less sick and to recover more quickly.

What’s New With the Flu This Year?

The Center for Disease Control says that the changes this year, in regards to the flu, include:

  • Flu vaccines have been updated to better match the expected circulating viruses
  • Nasal spray vaccines are again available for certain populations (not for those over age 49 or for people with asthma)
  • Most vaccines this year are quadrivalent, which means they have 4 components

The vaccines that will be available this year are:

  • Standard dose flu shots given into the muscle
  • High dose flu shots for older adults
  • Shots that contain a substance called an adjuvant that improve the immune response, also for older adults
  • Vaccines cultured both in eggs and in mammalian cells (new technology)
  • Nasal spray vaccines

You can speak with your doctor or your child’s doctor about the type of flu shot that might be best, based on your (or your child’s) age and health status.

The viruses that will be in most flu vaccines this year include:

  • A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
  • A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016
  • A(H3N2)-like virus (updated)
  • B/Colorado/06/2017-like (Victoria lineage) virus (updated)B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (Yamagata lineage) virus

Hopefully, those viruses will be the actual ones circulating this year!

A Few More Things to Keep in Mind About the Flu

Check with your doctor to see when flu vaccine is available and get your flu shot as soon as possible. You can also get flu shots at many pharmacies, clinics and even some schools. The important thing is to get immunized before flu activity begins in your area. It can take about 2 weeks after a flu shot to be fully protected.

Once flu season does begin, do your best to avoid coming into contact with sick people, especially those with the flu. When out in public, wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap to prevent the spread of infection. Never share drinks or eating utensils with other people. Children who have the flu should not attend school and adults should not report to work.

If you get the flu, then it’s important to call your doctor right away. There are antiviral drugs that can greatly improve your outcome with the flu, but they must be started early.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (5)
  • Shellzoo
    6 months ago

    People die from the flu. I don’t have the CDC stats but getting the flu shot not only protects us from getting the flu, it protects newborns, the elderly and people with chronic conditions. I gladly get the flu shot to protect those who are more at risk than me. Last year I got the shot and I did not get the flu. While everyone around me was getting sick, I stayed healthy. Getting my shot on Monday. So glad that we are able to have some protection against the flu. Just read about Spanish Influenza in 1918. It killed 50-100 million people worldwide. Hopefully with the vaccine available that will never happen again.

  • JanetH
    6 months ago

    Very true. My SIL’s older sister, who was asthmatic, died last year from flu complications. The ironic thing was that she was a respiratory therapist. I don’t know if she got a flu shot or not. Of course, we all know there is a small chance you can get flu even with a shot, and I have. But I still try to get a flu shot every.single.year.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    6 months ago

    Hi JanetH – I’m sorry to hear that you’re sister-in-law’s older sister died from the flu. Please accept my condolences. Most of us in the health care industry believe in vaccinations and this is no exception. Warm regards, Leon (site moderator)

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    6 months ago

    JanetH – that’s horrible about your sister-in-laws sister; and you’re right, how ironic that she was an RT. So sad! I also get it every year rather than take the chance. It’s true, you can still get the flu, but generally speaking it’s a milder case.

    Best,
    Lyn (site moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    6 months ago

    Hi Shellzoo and thanks for posting your opinion and experience with the flu vaccination. Interestingly enough, my father’s sister (an aunt I never knew), died in this country during that 1918 scourge. We appreciate your input. All the best, Leon (site moderator)

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