The influenza virus has struck early and hard this year, spreading quickly across the globe. If you have asthma, or take care of an asthmatic, you must be doubly concerned, because the flu can hit asthmatics hard.
I have witnessed the epidemic first hand where I work, doling out hundreds of Albuterol breathing treatments over the past month. The virus has even invaded my home, requiring me to give treatments to my two youngest children (aged 2 and 4) both of whom have asthma. I have also been required to take extra treatments myself.
The CDC marks the following warning for asthmatics or those who take care of asthmatics:
"Though people with asthma are not more likely to get the flu, influenza (flu) can be more serious for people with asthma, even if their asthma is mild or their symptoms are well-controlled by medication. This is because people with asthma have swollen and sensitive airways, and influenza can cause further inflammation of the airways and lungs. Influenza infection in the lungs can trigger asthma attacks and a worsening of asthma symptoms. It can also lead to pneumonia and other acute respiratory diseases. In fact, adults and children with asthma are more likely to develop pneumonia after getting sick with the flu than people who do not have asthma. Asthma is the most common medical condition among adults and kids hospitalized with the flu.
If you have asthma, or take care of an asthmatic, you'll want to pay extra attention to this flu epidemic. If you haven't done so already, you'll want to prepare your body for the invasion. The CDC offers the following tips:
- Get the inactivated flu vaccine
- Get the pneumococcal vaccine
- Wash your hands often
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Clean and disinfect often
- Take your asthma medication exactly as prescribed; this will make sure your lungs are ready for the invasion.
- Educate yourself. (Of course you're reading this, and you can also follow the links provided)
These all will reduce your risk, although you can still get the virus. The CDC reports that studies show the 2013 vaccine to be about 60 percent effective. That's probably because scientists basically make an educated guess as to what strain will attack this year. Still, getting the vaccine is highly advised.
If you think you or someone you care for has the flu virus, the CDC provides the following tips:
- Take it seriously
- Call doctor (there are medicines to make your lungs stronger and make you feel better)
- Continue to use your asthma medicines diligently
- Follow your asthma action plan, calling your doctor (again if necessary) if your asthma gets worse, if your peak flows dip, if you feel your asthma getting worse
- Don't be afraid to use your local emergency room. We are here to help you.