(The following is courtesy of CDC)
If you have asthma, you’re probably familiar with the wheezing, breathlessness and coughing that comes with it. But did you know that the flu can make your asthma worse, and that having asthma puts you at higher risk for serious flu complications? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even if your asthma is controlled by medicine, getting the flu can still make your asthma worse. It can even land you in the hospital. During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, about one-third of all people in the hospital from 2009 H1N1 had asthma.
Experts believe that the 2009 H1N1 virus will still be around during the 2010-2011 flu season. This season’s vaccine will protect against the 2009 H1N1 virus. The 2010-2011 flu vaccine will also protect against two other flu viruses that research shows may cause a lot illness during the upcoming season. CDC recommends a flu vaccine as the first and best defense against seasonal and 2009 H1N1 flu. In fact, CDC now encourages everyone 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine. “We hope the new recommendation this season will protect more people from the flu,” says Dr. Anne Schuchat, Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
But there is a special message for people who have asthma, “People with asthma and other underlying conditions are at special risk and it’s important that they be protected from the flu, including 2009 H1N1, this season. Get a flu shot,” Schuchat urges.
While symptoms and severity can vary, the flu is typically worse than the common cold, and can cause symptoms including high fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches. Vomiting and diarrhea can also occur, although usually more often in children. Call your doctor right away if you get flu symptoms.
Asthma puts adults and children at more of a risk for complications from the flu. The flu vaccine is safe and cannot give you the flu. The flu shot rather than the nasal spray is suggested for people with asthma or other medical conditions.
Because different flu viruses go around each year, a new flu vaccine is made each year to fight seasonal flu, which is why it is important to get a seasonal flu vaccine every year. Even if you got a vaccine last season, you should still get a flu shot this season, because the protection from last year’s vaccine may have gone away, plus this season’s vaccine will protect against new strains of flu viruses.
Vaccine is available through your doctor, pharmacist, local health clinic, and flu clinics at local retail outlets. For more information, visit www.flu.gov, www.cdc.gov/flu, or contact CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).