The flu is a respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses that spread easily. It can cause mild to severe illness. It can also cause death in severe cases. If you have asthma, protecting yourself from the flu is very important.
The flu can affect your lungs when you have asthma. It can cause your airways to swell and narrow. This can trigger asthma symptoms (an asthma episode or attack).
Many people recover from the flu without problems. But having asthma puts you at risk of serious health problems from the flu.
The flu usually starts suddenly and may include these symptoms:
If you develop any of the symptoms above and trouble breathing, contact your doctor right away.
Diarrhea and vomiting also can occur but are more common in children. These symptoms are called “flu-like symptoms.” Many different illnesses can have the same symptoms and sometimes be confusing. This includes the common cold, allergy symptoms, and asthma symptoms. Talk with your doctor to get the right diagnosis.
Some signs and symptoms need emergency medical care right away. Call 911 if you or your child has these symptoms.
For children, emergency symptoms include:
For adults, emergency symptoms include:
Unlike asthma, the flu is contagious. The flu spreads from coughing and sneezing. It usually spreads from person to person. You can also get the flu by touching something with the flu virus on it, then touching your mouth or nose. You can spread the flu before you know you are sick and when you are sick.
The flu spreads from October through May each year.
There are tests that can tell if you have the flu. But testing is most accurate if it is done within the first three days of illness. You may also need a doctor’s exam to tell if you have an infection that is a complication of the flu.
There are antiviral drugs approved to treat flu. Talk to your doctor about these prescription medicines. You need to start antiviral treatments within two days of when you start to have symptoms. If you get flu-like symptoms, contact your doctor right away.
Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, and avoid using alcohol and tobacco. Before taking over-the-counter medicines to help relieve flu symptoms, talk to your doctor. Some over-the-counter medicines or supplements can interfere with other medicine you may be taking.
There are some easy things you can do to avoid getting and spreading the flu:
If you get the flu, stay home from work or school.
If you have ever had either of the following,you should check with your allergist to ask if the flu vaccine is safe for you:
Egg Allergy and Flu Vaccine
Egg allergy is not a reason to avoid the flu vaccine. It is safe for ALL people with egg allergy to receive an annual flu shot. This is true no matter how severe your egg allergy was in the past. This includes anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) to egg.
Several research studies have shown the flu shot is safe for people with an egg allergy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), and the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) all recommend getting a flu shot even if you have an egg allergy.
Latex Allergy and Flu Vaccine
If you have a latex allergy, check with your doctor before getting a flu vaccine. Latex could be in the flu vaccine vials or the syringes used to give the flu shot.
Severe Allergic Reactions
Allergic reactions (including anaphylaxis) after flu shot are serious but rare.
Medical Review April 2021 by Sarah Goff, MD, PhD