As Flu season gets underway, it is important for everyone to be informed on key facts about the Flu. The Flu is a potentially dangerous infection for anyone, but many of our patients at AIR Care are at a higher risk for complications from the Flu, especially those with asthma. In fact, asthma is the most common condition among all children who are hospitalized from the Flu. If you or your child have asthma, it is especially important that you are well educated on the Flu, so you can avoid any serious complications.
First, here are some answers to common questions about the Flu:
- What are the symptoms of the Flu:
- Common symptoms include: nasal congestion, high fever, cough, chills, fatigue, headache, and body aches. Less common are vomiting and diarrhea.
- How is the Flu spread?
- The Flu spreads by droplets made when people cough or sneeze. If someone else touches these droplets, they can get exposed to the virus.
- When is the Flu contagious?
- You are typically contagious right before and for the first 3-4 days after the onset of your illness.
- Does the Flu ever lead to anything more serious?
- Most people recover from the Flu within 1-2 weeks. However, some people can develop complications including pneumonia, sinus infections, ear infections, or worsening of chronic conditions such as asthma. Rarely the Flu can evolve into “Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome” or ARDS which can be fatal.
- How is the Flu treated?
- Since the Flu is a virus, antibiotics do not treat it. There are some antiviral medications that can be used, however they only shorten the duration of illness or severity of symptoms. They do not cure the Flu. The main treatment is supportive care, including taking medications for fever, getting lots of rest, and drinking plenty of fluids.
Most patients will recover from the flu in 1-2 weeks with no serious complications. However, as we talked about above, many of our patients at AIR Care are at a higher risk of having serious complications from the Flu. Patients with asthma have chronic inflammation in their airways, and the Flu can make that inflammation even worse. This can lead to an asthma exacerbation, and also puts you at a higher risk for developing pneumonia.
So, here are some tips to help you manage the Flu as an asthma patient:
- Get your Flu shot! It is not too late! The Flu shot offers about 60% protection from the Flu and is the best thing you can do to protect yourself. Just make sure to get the shot and not the nasal spray. The shot contains an inactivated form of the virus, so it cannot give you the Flu!
- Make sure to take all your asthma medications to keep your asthma controlled. You are at even higher risk if you get the Flu and your asthma is not well controlled.
- Call us right away if you begin to have Flu symptoms. The antiviral medications for the Flu are most effective if started right away and help you avoid complications.
- Make sure you have an asthma action plan that details what you should do in case your asthma symptoms flare. If you don’t have a plan you can call us at AIR Care with any questions.
- Wash your hands!! This is another way you can avoid getting the Flu.
- If you do get the Flu, make sure to stay on top of your asthma medications, use rescue Albuterol puffs or treatments as needed, get plenty of rest, and drink plenty of fluids. If you develop any severe shortness of breath, wheezing, or fast breathing that does not get better with your rescue inhaler or nebulized treatments then go to the ER or urgent care right away.
If you have any questions regarding your symptoms don’t hesitate to call us at AIR Care. Wishing everyone a healthy Flu season!
CDC. (2018, September 18). Flu and People with Asthma. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/asthma/index.htm