Open up the newspaper or turn on the television these days and you will likely find mention of the Swine (H1N1) Flu pandemic. But while everyone is at risk for catching this new illness, if you have asthma or other chronic health conditions, you may be especially concerned about the effect that getting sick can have on your already sensitive airways.

But you don't have to cower inside all winter long--follow our essential guide for preventing swine flu, you can still get out and be active.

Preventing Swine Flu

While any flu can cause respiratory symptoms, the swine flu can be apt to cause more severe symptoms, straining your respiratory system and putting you at greater risk for your asthma to kick in. It can also make you more susceptible to getting secondary infections, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. To protect yourself as best you can, the experts recommend:

  • Getting vaccinated
  • Avoiding sick people
  • Controlling asthma
  • Recognizing the first signs of illness

Swine Flu Vaccine

If you get a flu shot every year, you may think this is enough for you in preventing swine flu from affecting you. But the truth is that the 2009 batch of seasonal flu vaccines doesn't even offer any protection against the swine flu. In fact, when it comes to preventing swine flu, the experts say that you will need to get a separate swine flu vaccination, at least for 2009-2010.

Supply is Limited

The swine flu vaccine is not yet available as of the end of Sept. 2009, but public health experts expect to begin vaccinating high-risk patients as an essential step in preventing swine flu sometime in October.

However, the vaccine may be available in short supply, which means that may not be enough for everyone who wants it from this first batch. Therefore, how serious your asthma is and what your risks are for complications will dictate how soon you can become a vaccine recipient.

Prevention Steps

In the meantime, you don't have to resign yourself to becoming ill. There are some key steps you can take in preventing swine flu. First, you should steer clear of anyone else who could be sick, since this illness can easily be transmitted. Move away from people who are sneezing, coughing or exhibiting other signs of illnesses throughout the course of your day. The experts also recommend avoiding heavily trafficked public areas, where germs may be prevalent.

You should also make sure to wash your hands often and try to avoiding touching your nose or mouth, which can allow you to become infected if you become exposed to the germs in the first place.

Finally, be sure to follow your asthma action plan and keep your condition well controlled. This will help you to stay healthy and avoid complications if you do fall prey to this illness.

Recognize the Symptoms

You should also know the symptoms that can accompany the swine flu, so if you do get sick, you will recognize it and respond accordingly. Swine flu symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Coughing
  • Body Aches
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Stomach symptoms in some cases

Take Action

While there have been a number of deaths from the swine flu reported in the media, it is important to remember that many people can die from the seasonal flu as well so this isn't all that unusual. Further, most people with any type of flu do recover in full.

To help you if you do get sick, you should call your doctor at the first signs of illness and find out if you can benefit from taking an anti-viral medication that will help lessen the severity and course of your illness greatly. While this can be an effective strategy, the medicine needs to be given at the onset the flu in order to work to its full extent.

Also be on the lookout for signs that your symptoms are worsening, which can indicate a secondary infection has set in and needs to be treated right away.




American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)