5 Surprising Things to Know About Flu and Asthma

Flu will affect somewhere between 16 million and 65 million people in the U.S. this year. Around 30 million Americans have asthma. You may think you’ve heard everything about these two lung invaders, but you might be surprised to find that they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Here are 5 things about flu and asthma you may not have known.

Flu hits people with asthma harder and can trigger asthma attacks.

According to the CDC, influenza infection in the lungs can trigger asthma attacks and a worsening of asthma symptoms. People with asthma are at high risk for developing serious flu complications — including those that can result in hospitalization or even death. Complications of flu can include:

  • Ear infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Worsening of chronic conditions (asthma, heart disease)
  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues
  • Sepsis

It’s especially important for someone with asthma to know when to go to the ER with flu symptoms.

Most people with asthma don’t get annual flu vaccinations.

Despite being at high risk for flu’s complications, the CDC reports that very few people with asthma opt for a flu shot. Here’s who’s taking a pass:

  • 2/3 of all asthmatic adults
  • 4/5 of asthmatic adults under 50 years old

Getting a flu shot is your best defense against influenza and its complications. The whole family can get vaccinated at one of 30 DFW CareNow Urgent Care locations.

FluMist is NOT recommended for asthma sufferers.

The CDC says that the 2018-2019 FluMist® vaccination — the nasal spray version of the vaccine — is effective. However, it’s not recommended for people with asthma because it can increase risk of wheezing.

  • Who should ask their doctor if the FluMist vaccination is okay?
    • All people with asthma over 4 years old
  • Who should NOT get a FluMist vaccination?
    • Children 2 through 4 years old who have asthma or who have had a history of wheezing in the past 12 months

If you have kids who can’t get FluMist, read Tips to Prepare Kids for the Flu Shot and Helpful Hints to Avoid Getting Sick.

Asthma sufferers are more likely to get pneumonia following the flu.

Adults and children with asthma are more likely to develop pneumonia after getting sick with flu than people who do not have asthma. For this reason, the CDC recommends people with asthma stay up to date on their pneumococcal vaccinations. These immunizations protect against pneumonia, meningitis and bloodstream infections. Ask your doctor which pneumococcal vaccines are right for you.

Flu and asthma are a dangerous combination.

While asthma is not known to be a risk factor for flu, it is the most common medical condition among children hospitalized with flu and one of the more common medical conditions among hospitalized adults.

To keep everyone safe from the flu, get annual flu shots and:

For any medical emergency large or small, including complications of flu and asthma, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City Healthcare ER near you or visit Medical City Virtual Care for non-emergency medical treatment from your computer or smartphone.

Sign Up for the LifeSigns E-Newsletter