The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. It can also cause death in severe cases. The flu can affect your lungs when you have asthma. It can cause inflammation (swelling) and narrowing of your airways. These changes could trigger asthma symptoms, an asthma episode or an asthma attack. If you have asthma, defending yourself against the flu is very important.
Most healthy people recover from the flu without problems. Having asthma puts you at risk of serious health problems from the flu. If you develop flu-like symptoms, contact your doctor right away.
If you have ever had either of the following, you should check with your allergist to ask whether the flu vaccine is safe for you:
Egg Allergy and Flu Vaccine
Egg allergy is no longer 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 in the past four years have shown the injectable influenza vaccine (flu shot) is safe for those with egg allergy. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Allergy and College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology all have updated their recommendations.
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 vaccination are serious but rare.
The flu usually starts suddenly and may include these symptoms:
Diarrhea and vomiting also can occur, but are more common in children. These symptoms are referred to as “flu-like symptoms.” Many different illnesses like the common cold, allergy symptoms and asthma symptoms can sometimes be similar and confusing. Talk with your doctor to get a proper diagnosis.
There are some emergency signs that require immediate medical care.
For adults, emergency signs 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’re sick and when you are sick.
There are tests that can tell if you have the flu. But testing must be 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. Antiviral treatment must be started within two days of illness. If you get flu-like symptoms, seek medical care right away.
Other treatment tips are to get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids and avoid using alcohol and tobacco. Also, you can take over-the-counter medicines to relieve flu symptoms.
Flu season can last from fall through the spring. There are some easy things you can do to avoid getting the flu:
There are also some easy things you can do to avoid spreading respiratory illnesses like the flu:
Medical Review October 2015.