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Many people are unaware of the potentially serious complications that can arise as a result of having the flu when you also have asthma. For many people with asthma, viruses such as flu can set off symptoms and even lead to an asthma attack.
It's important to know why this is the case. Asthma is essentially characterised by sensitivity and inflammation in the airways. Influenza and other viruses can worsen these two things, and also result in a dry and chesty cough.
When combined with asthma, flu can occasionally develop into serious conditions such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
Flu is a viral infection, so no amount of antibiotics will help you recover. Some of the main symptoms are tiredness, coughing, sneezing and body aches. Flu is similar to a cold, but is usually much more severe. Not to mention that, with Christmas right around the corner, the last thing you want to be concerned about is temperature-induced fevers, nausea and aching muscles.
If you come down with flu you should drink lots of water, rest, and take painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Make sure whatever you're taking won't trigger your asthma symptoms.
Flu increases the sensitivity of your airways, so that means you need to be extra cautious at this time of year if you have asthma. A combination of influenza and asthma can lead to swelling, worsening symptoms, and an asthma attack – it can even be fatal.
90% of people with asthma report that colds and flu worsen their symptoms, so it's important to get prepared and stay informed.
Here are some of the symptoms asthma sufferers may experience if they catch flu.
By following the advice below, you'll be better equipped to get through the winter.
The deputy chief executive of Asthma.org says: '...only some people with asthma need the vaccine to reduce the potentially increased risk of an asthma attack if they get flu.'
Whilst no vaccine is ever 100% effective - and the effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies from year to year - if you've had the flu jab you are significantly less likely to get the currently circulating strain of influenza. However, getting the jab doesn't prevent you from catching colds, so it's still important to take other necessary precautions like washing your hands regularly.
Speak to your doctor or nurse about getting the vaccine if any of the following applies to you:
The flu jab doesn't always prevent flu, but it may lessen the symptoms because your immune system has already fought the virus and created antibodies. It's also important to note that the flu jab may cause side effects such as slight temperature, headaches or aching muscles. Essentially, mild flu symptoms.
Whether you have asthma or not, it's always advised to take these important steps to avoid flu.
Speak to your doctor about the pneumococcal vaccination - it's a bacterial pneumonia that can make anyone with asthma very unwell. Look out for sinus symptoms such as headaches and cheekbone pain. See a medical professional before they develop and worsen your asthma.
There are all kinds of triggers for asthma during the festive season, from Christmas trees to central heating, so make note of your symptoms and take your medications with care. For more information, it's always best to talk to your GP about your condition.