What Your Immune System Can Do for Asthma

A properly functioning immune system helps fight off germs and keeps you from getting sick. This particularly essential for those with asthma since being ill can trigger respiratory symptoms and can make those living with asthma even sicker.

Here are some things you can do to help keep your immune system strong:

  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Steer clear of others who are sick
  • Wash your hands
  • Avoid stress

Asthma and Health Boosting Efforts

Many asthmatics can also benefit from getting a flu shot every year to help the body fight off the seasonal influenza virus. And if your asthma is triggered by allergies, it can be helpful to undergo immunotherapy (also commonly referred to as allergy injections) to prevent your immune system from overreacting to triggers, which can bring on asthma symptoms.

Other Asthma Management Tips

Of course even the best efforts won't keep you from suffering an occasional illness. Therefore, if you do become sick and are living with asthma, you'll need to take some extra precautions, such as monitoring your asthma warning signs so you'll know if you're getting into your danger zone, increasing your asthma medications to help you get through the toughest period, and making an extra attempt to avoid asthma triggers like dust, mold, animals, and chemicals when you're coping with a viral infection or other illness.

Surprising Research on Asthma and the Immune System

You may also be tempted to take supplements to help boost your immune system once you're already sick. But a study on mice that was conducted by scientists from the University of Michigan Medical School reveals that when the immune system kicks in and reacts to a cold virus, this leads to a release of chemicals that can actually cause airway inflammation and result in wheezing, cough, and other discomforts associated with asthma.

Interestingly enough, in mice with weaker immune systems who were exposed to the cold virus, this response was avoided and related asthma symptoms were prevented. This leads researchers to believe that it could be the immune system response, rather than the virus itself, that triggers the asthma. These findings were published in PLOS Pathogens in May 2011.

Your Asthma Management Efforts

If further research confirms this surprising asthma and health link, in the future asthmatics may be directed to take steps to temper their immune system response to germs, rather than try to strengthen it. In the meantime, the best way to protect yourself is to make healthy choices to keep your immune system strong enough to avoid getting sick and to follow your asthma management plan to keep your symptoms in check.




American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI). "Asthma Triggers and Management: Tips to Remember." N.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2012.

Mayo Clinic. "Asthma: Limit asthma attacks caused by cold or flu." N.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2012.

UVA Health Systems. "Breathe Easy: Asthma Doesn't Have to Control Your Life."  22 May 2012. Web. 5 Aug. 2012.

Wang Q et al. "MDA5 and TLR3 Initiate Pro-Inflammatory Signaling Pathways Leading to Rhinovirus-Induced Airways Inflammation and Hyperresponsiveness." PLoS Pathog 7(5) (May 2011): 1371.