If you suffer from asthma, it's more important than ever that you take steps to protect yourself from the threat of the flu as the weather gets colder. That's because the seasonal flu typically circulates and poses health risks to asthmatics every year.  While many unanswered questions still exist about the flu, it is known that a number of the people who have gotten the sickest from this illness to date also suffer from chronic conditions such as asthma, which may make them more susceptible to experiencing serious complications.

The Danger of Asthma and Flu

Each year, nearly 40,000 people in the United States die from flu-related causes.  And while these are the most publicized, the vast majority of the cases of flu are uncomfortable but not dangerous. For people with serious asthma, though, the symptoms easily can worsen into pneumonia or other respiratory complications that can become life threatening.

Recognizing the danger inherent in the asthma and flu relationship, the Centers for Disease Control recently named people with asthma as a high priority group to be vaccinated against both influenza strains.

The Risks that Exist

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), people who suffer from the combination of asthma and flu can get more severely ill and also may take longer than the general population to get well again. In fact, some researchers estimate that as many as one out of every three people who have been hospitalized with the flu also had asthma, reinforcing the need for people with breathing difficulties to be especially vigilant. Of course similar complications can also occur with the seasonal flu, though, so you need to fight both illnesses simultaneously.

Asthma and Flu Shots

If you suffer from asthma, you may be relieved to know that seasonal flu shots are available now. You can usually get one through your doctor's office. You can also find flu shot clinics through many pharmacies and other local health centers.

This immunization comes in both injection form and also as a nasal alternative. However, there is the risk that patients with asthma can find that the nasal application can trigger asthma symptoms, so some experts recommend sticking with the injection.

The flu shot should be available during mid fall, so talk to your doctor or allergist about how to get one.

Be the on the Lookout

In the meantime, if you do come down with any flu-like symptoms, you should seek medical attention. If the flu is caught early enough, some people with asthma can benefit from taking an anti-viral drug that helps prevent the illness from getting as serious.

Some of the symptoms that could be signs of the flu include the following:

  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Cough
  • Nasal congestion

In addition to getting immunized yourself against this year's flu, it is also important that your family members also get protected so they don't get sick and infect you.




American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)



American Pharmacists Association (APhA)


Centers for Disease Control