As the temperature drops and more people head indoors, cold and flu germs will be circulating in full force. And while no one wants to get sick, if you have asthma, you know that you're at increased risk for experiencing side effects. But you don't have to feel doomed to suffer from the consequences. If you keep your condition under control and also minimize your contact with germs, you can keep yourself in the clear.

Cold and Flu Season Risks

For people with asthma, every cold and flu season brings new reasons to take careful care of your health. Review the following facts to understand why you may be at such high risk.

  • People with asthma have sensitive airways, which can be more easily irritated by cold and flu viruses.
  • Your lungs can also more easily fill with mucus during cold and flu season than someone without breathing problems.
  • You can be at higher risk of experiencing complications, such as bronchitis or even pneumonia when cold and flu season hits.
  • The complications that can occur when an asthmatic gets a cold or the flu can last well beyond the original illness. So if someone without asthma has a cold for a week or so, you could be sick for a few weeks or longer with the same thing.

Get Immunized This Cold and Flu Season

The best way to avoid asthma flare-ups as the result of a cold or flu is to head off the problem in the first place. One important strategy in illness prevention is to get your flu shot as soon as it's available. (In the fall/winter of 2009, people need separate shots for both for the seasonal flu and for H1N1.) While there's been much controversy about flu shots, the experts stress their safety and remind people of the importance of asthmatics and others who are at increased risk taking this step. Remember that most side effects of a flu shot will be minimal compared with the dangers of getting sick.

Wash Up

Another way to prevent illness is to wash your hands often soap and very hot water. Finally, steer clear of sick people and of crowded places where you are likely to come in contact with lots of viruses.

In addition, if you do find yourself getting sick, it's important to follow your asthma action plan as directed by your doctor. You may need to increase your medications and stay on top of your symptoms in order to help you weather the illness with as little asthma involvement as possible.


Pediatrics for Parents

Your Lung Health

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAI)