Is the Flu Good for Asthma?

It might be difficult to imagine anything good coming out of the dreadful flu. But researchers have discovered that when babies are exposed to the influenza virus early on, their immune systems become strong and activate enough immune response to prevent asthma later in life.

Timing Matters

Scientists from the Children's Hospital in Boston conducted a study on mice and discovered that this benefit occurred when the flu was present within the first two weeks of life. The same protective benefits also come from contact with a compound taken from another virus called Helicobacter pylori, which is known to lead to ulcers and stomach cancer.

These findings on the flu and asthma were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigations in December 2010 and reinforce a growing belief that the current efforts in our society to avoid germs could be affecting the immune system's ability to fight off illness, instead of responding to harmless triggers. The hyper-avoidance of germs as also increased the amount of people coping with allergies and asthma.

The Future of the Flu and Asthma

Scientists are hoping that with further research, they can also separate the positive elements from the flu and stomach ailments and develop vaccines that can prevent the development of asthma without any ill effects.

What You Can Do

If you suffer from asthma, you should still take precautions toavoid getting the flu since the protective factor has long passed for you. So make an effort to avoid sick people, get plenty of rest, eat well, and wash your hands often. And take your asthma control medications as directed by your doctor. If you find yourself coming down with the flu or some other illness, be sure to take care of yourself and increase your inhaler usage according to your asthma action plan.

It's also worth noting that if you plan to have children in the future, you should stay on top of this ongoing research. Someday soon, your newborn could be able to take advantage of the flu benefits to prevent getting asthma.



"A Benefit of Flu: Protection from Asthma?" Journal of Clinical Investigation. The American Society for Clinical Investigation, Jan. 2011. Web, 23 Jan. 2011.

"Study Shows How Flu Infections May Prevent Asthma Activating the Right Immune Cells in Infants Could Lead to New Vaccine Strategies." Children's Children's Hospital Boston, 13 Dec. 2010. Web, 23 Jan. 2011.