People with Asthma Need to Take Extra Precautions to Avoid the Flu

 

The flu can be dangerous for anyone, but those with asthma need to take extra precautions to avoid the flu and prevent problems. Being proactive during flu season is not just important; it’s a must if you have asthma.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has advice for fighting the flu if you have asthma.

1. Get the flu shot every fall. Flu season begins in the fall and goes through the spring. Get the actual shot, not the nasal spray vaccine. The nasal spray vaccine can trigger asthma symptoms.

2. Make it a family affair. Have family members without asthma get the flu shot to protect those that do have asthma.

3. Prevent exposure. The flu can be very contagious. Properly wash your hands often and don’t share food or utensils. If possible, avoid people who are sick. 

4. Talk to your health care provider about updating your asthma action plan so that you know what to do if you get sick.

5. If you get sick with flu symptoms, call your doctor immediately. Symptoms can include fever (usually high), headache, extreme fatigue, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose and body aches. People with asthma can quickly become sicker with the flu. Your doctor may recommend treatment with an antiviral medicine or they may recommend a change to your normal asthma treatment.

Know the emergency symptoms of the flu and seek emergency medical help right away if you show these signs:

  • Rapid breathing or trouble breathing
  • Blue skin color
  • Chest or abdomen pain
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Severe vomiting
  • Confusion


Egg Allergy and the Flu
The medical community agrees that there is no longer any reason to avoid the flu shot if you have an egg allergy. The flu shot is safe for everyone with an egg allergy, even if you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to eggs. 

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Originally published November 2016, updated August 2017
Medical Review December 2016.

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Yes, Jen's exactly right. Plus, the Centers for Disease Control says this about who should get the flu shot:

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. This recommendation has been in place since February 24, 2010 when CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for “universal” flu vaccination in the United States to expand protection against the flu to more people.

My DH isn't a fan of shots, but he gets his shot every year to help protect me and our daughter -- side benefit is that he hasn't gotten the flu himself since he started getting an annual flu shot. 

Could you talk to your doctor about what your doctor's recommendation is for flu shots when it comes to your particular family? Your doctor will know your situation best. 

K8sMom2002 posted:

Hi, @Venkata Aspari and welcome! Everyone in my family gets a flu shot -- that way everyone is protected from the flu. 

Thank you for the welcome and the response. I understand that flu vaccine protects.

My question was: if the asthmatic person gets the shot  then he/she is protected. How will the vaccination status of others in the family affect the asthmatic?

But Jen did answer saying there are other flu-related illnesses like pneumonia which could be passed on even if flu itself could be avoided.

Jen posted:

Hi @Venkata Aspari

Welcome to AAFA's support community.  It is important for all family members to be vaccinated so as not to bring flu into the home and potentially cause those with asthma to get sick.  The flu can be accompanied by other illnesses, such as pneumonia, so even if someone is vaccinated, they could still get sick from others in their house who have the flu/other contagious illnesses.  If everyone in the home is vaccinated, there is less risk of bringing other illnesses into the home.

Thank you, that helps.

Hi @Venkata Aspari

Welcome to AAFA's support community.  It is important for all family members to be vaccinated so as not to bring flu into the home and potentially cause those with asthma to get sick.  The flu can be accompanied by other illnesses, such as pneumonia, so even if someone is vaccinated, they could still get sick from others in their house who have the flu/other contagious illnesses.  If everyone in the home is vaccinated, there is less risk of bringing other illnesses into the home.

Why not share your situation on our Asthma Support Forum so you can get more feedback from other folks in a similar situation? If you're on desktop view, just follow the link above, and click on the big green POST. On mobile, click the three horizontal lines in the upper left hand corner, and you'll see POST. Click that, and you'll be able to type your comment as a new post.  

William, that's a tough road you've had to travel to figure out what was causing the chest pains. Here's hoping that your doctor can help you figure out the next step. In the meantime, feel free to post a new topic or join in on our online support community. 

Up until 2 weeks ago, I took prednisone only for a cold or flu symptoms .  Also I had started on Stiolto 3 months ago, replacing Alvesco and Spiriva. My doctor recommended the change. I should have researched it. I had used Symbicort, then Advair, then Breo all with the same results: quite pronounced chest pains after a few weeks on the new med. The first time resulted in extensive testing, focusing on potential heart problems, but with numerous other tests for physical, chemical, even psychological causes. Cat scan, xrays, MRI, cardiac catheterization, and a nuclear stress test. And everything came out clean, first class heart and arteries, no other problems.  After which I researched the med, Symbicort, and found the cautions re chest pains. Fometerol. Fast forward to the latest, Stiolto, with its olodoterol component. Worse than the previous, the pain was more severe, more extensive. So I stopped the Stiolto. Ten days later, the pain had disappeared. But breathing was  very poor. Prednisone (4 mg tablets, 21 tabs) and I felt much better. Completed the set; four days later, short of breath. Another round, ended today, and I'm good... for a few days, I guess. What now ? 

Hi @William - it's the Flumist nasal flu vaccine that has the live virus. The flu shots do not. It's always good to discuss with your own doctor what treatment is best for you.

Are you always on Prednisone? Or just when you have an asthma flare? 

Hi, William!  I would talk to your doctor about receiving the flu shot. I know my doctor encourages me to get a flu shot every year.

You can get a flu vaccine that is NOT live. Here's what the CDC says about the flu vaccine:

Flu vaccines that are administered with a needle are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and are therefore not infectious, or b) with no flu vaccine viruses at all (which is the case for recombinant influenIza vaccine). The nasal spray flu vaccine does contain live viruses.

I take prednisone. The warnings included with prednisone caution about live vaccines:  

" Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using this medicine. Prednisone may increase your risk of harmful effects from a live vaccine. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), and nasal flu (influenza) vaccine."

      Perhaps I should avoid the flu shot ?

 

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