Why is Flu Bad for Asthmatics? Find out!


Asthma and Flu is not an easy combination to handle. Flu is a contagious respiratory infection caused by Influenza virus. Unlike other viral respiratory infections, Flu can cause severe illness and even life-threatening conditions.

It was reported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2010, that from 1976 and 2007, around 3000 to 49000 people died annually due to Flu related complications. The risk of complications is greater for young children, people of age 65 or older and people with chronic illness like Asthma.

Having asthma does not increase your risk of getting Flu infection, but Flu can become more serious for asthmatic people, even if their asthma is mild and well controlled by drugs. The reason behind this is- airways of asthmatic people are already swollen and sensitive, and Flu can cause further inflammation and constriction of the airways, which can trigger worsening of asthma symptoms and attacks. Therefore, it is highly important for people with asthma to take timely steps to reduce their risk of getting Flu.

What are the symptoms of Flu in asthmatic people?

Call your doctor if you experience symptoms like:

  • Wheezing or increased breathlessness
  • Coughing out increased amounts of mucus
  • Yellow/ green colored mucus
  • Fever or chills
  • Fatigue and body ache
  • Sore and scratchy throat
  • Headache
  • Nasal congestion

How can you protect yourself from Flu?

The best way to protect yourself from Flu is by getting vaccinated.

Anyone with Asthma who is 6 months and older should get a Flu vaccine.

Types of Flu Vaccine

Flu shots (made with killed flu virus) are recommended for people 6 months and older regardless of whether they have asthma or not. The best time to get this vaccine is in October or November.

Nasal spray which contains weakened viruses. This type of vaccine should not be used in asthmatic people as it can worsen the symptoms.

Many varieties of Flu vaccine contain some amount of egg protein. According to CDC people who are allergic to eggs should not take nasal spray vaccine. The flu shot is safe for most of the egg-allergic people. However it should be given in a hospital equipped with all necessary equipment to handle serious allergic reactions.

What can you do if you get the Flu?

If you have asthma and you get infected with Flu, then the first step is to call your doctor as prompt treatment is highly recommended for people who are at high risk of Flu complications.

Your doctor may put you on antiviral drugs which work the best when started early (within 48 hrs after the appearance of symptoms). These drugs can prevent serious complications that can occur due to Flu.

The best way to recover from Flu is to take ample rest, drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and avoid tobacco or alcohol.

You can take over-the-counter medications to get relief from symptoms. However, never take Aspirin if you have symptoms of Flu. Aspirin if taken during Flu-like symptoms may cause a serious and life-threatening condition.

Want to learn more about Asthma? Read our Asthma Resource Guide

The allergy group has released a resource guide on asthma. This resource guide covers everything you need to know about asthma, and provides resources on topics like what you should do if someone has an asthma attack, what are the risk factors of asthma, and how do you know if you have asthma.

Read the Asthma Resource Guide