Asthma

Asthma Increases Risk of Certain Preventable Diseases

People with asthma are at higher risk for serious problems from certain vaccine-preventable diseases. Use the CDC’s Adult and Adolescent Vaccine Quiz to find out which vaccines you need. You can print your results to take to your next appointment with your doctor.

Why are vaccines important for people with asthma?

During an asthma episode, your airways narrow, swell and become blocked with mucus – making it hard to breathe. Some diseases can have similar effects on your lungs. Asthma, in addition to an infection, can lead to serious health complications – even death.

It is recommended that people with asthma and their loved ones get vaccines to reduce the risk of these preventable diseases:

  1. Flu (Influenza)

The flu is contagious and attacks the nose, throat and lungs. Infected people are contagious one day before developing symptoms and up to seven days after getting sick.

The best way to protect you is to get a flu shot before outbreaks begin. People with asthma are more likely to have severe complications from the flu.

Call your doctor if you get flu-like symptoms so you can adjust your asthma management plan, if necessary.

Flu symptoms

  • fever
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • dry cough
  • sore throat
  • nasal congestion
  • body aches
  1. Pneumococcal Disease

Pneumococcal [noo-muh-kok-uhl] disease is a serious bacterial infection that can cause pneumonia, meningitis, bloodstream infections (sepsis) and ear infections.

Each year in the United States, pneumococcal disease kills thousands of adults, including 18,000 adults 65 years or older. [1]

When the pneumococcal bacteria spread into the lungs, it causes pneumonia. Pneumonia is serious for someone with asthma.

Pneumonia symptoms

  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain
  • cough (you may cough up greenish or yellow mucus)
  • shortness of breath
  • fever
  • chills

There are two types of the pneumococcal vaccine. Talk with your health care provider to find out if one of them is right for you.

  1. Shingles

People with asthma might be at an increased risk for shingles. A virus that inflames the nerves to the skin causes shingles. Some people have severe pain. Very rarely, shingles can also lead to pneumonia.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends the shingles vaccine for people aged 60 years and older. Even people who have had shingles can receive the vaccine to help prevent another case of this painful disease.

  1. Whooping Cough

Whooping cough (pertussis) can cause violent and rapid coughing, over and over, until the air is gone from the lungs and you are forced to inhale with a loud "whooping" sound.

The infection is generally milder in teens and adults, especially those who have been vaccinated.[2]

If you received your vaccine for pertussis many years ago, it is possible you need a booster. Tdap is the pertussis vaccine for adults.

Vaccine side effects are usually mild and go away on their own. Severe side effects are very rare. You can protect your health by getting these vaccines. Talk with your doctor about what vaccines you may need.

References

1. 2. https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/signs-symptoms.html

Medical Review February 2017.