It’s that time of year again—the flu is gearing up to begin its rampage. Indiscriminate and extremely contagious, this problematic virus makes millions of people miserable every flu season—but for some, is can be deadly, including those with asthma.
Once the virus enters the body, it multiplies quickly, and symptoms such as fatigue, muscle aches, and dry cough increase rapidly. The flu vaccine is one way that you can protect yourself and those close to you this flu season. Flu vaccines should be taken just before the flu season starts – which is typically from October to April in the U.S., and generally peaks throughout the later winter months of December and January.
Contrary to popular belief, the flu vaccine does not cause the flu. Instead, it helps to activate your immune system to get it ready for potential infection of the virus.
Most healthy people experience flu symptoms and will recover within two weeks of exposure; however, certain members of the population are at risk of experiencing severe flu-related complications. This includes; young children under the age of five, adults over the age of 65, and people with chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes. The 2017 to 2018 flu period was particularly deadly, and resulted in more than 80,000 deaths.
Asthma and the Flu—How Does it Affect Me?
If you have asthma, it’s advised that you get a flu shot — not only will this help you avoid the unpleasant symptoms of the influenza virus, but it will also protect you from more severe illnesses such aspneumonia as a complication the flu.
In asthmatics, the flu virus exasperates inflammation in the lungs, escalating asthma symptoms such as chest tightness and difficulty breathing. This could be due to the fact that the airways in people with asthma differ from those without it, and also produce more mucus.
This combination of an existing sensitive respiratory response, and the flu virus, can lead to further complications and an increase in asthma symptoms.
If you have asthma, you should take simple steps to help you get through the flu season safely. Making sure you receive a flu vaccination is the most critical step, followed by practicing good personal hygiene to ensure you don’t pick up anyone else’s germs.
And remember, if you find yourself with flu this season — don’t panic. Make an appointment with your doctor or respiratory therapist to ensure that your symptoms are being managed and that your medication plan is effective.
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