Come winter, the serious health troubles for asthmatic patients begin. The cold weather conditions worsen the symptoms of asthma like severe wheezing, shortness of breath, tight feeling in the chest, making it very difficult for the patients to breathe.

When a viral infection occurs, such as influenza, bacteria and viruses penetrate deep into the lungs and multiply more easily, making it more likely for other infections, such as to develop.1

The typical symptoms of flu include high fever, cough, runny nose, headache, muscle pains, severe fatigue and sore throat. The other complications caused due to flu in case of asthmatics may include viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial pneumonia, sinusitis.

Influenza multiplies complications in Asthmatics such as Asthma attacks, Pneumonia, worsening Asthma and Acute Respiratory Disease symptoms.

Studies reveal that around 33 per cent of flu cases are asymptomatic and can started suddenly within 48 hours of contracting the influenza virus. Influenza virus starts doing rounds annually during the outbreak and it is in fact predicted in many countries, based on the climatic conditions.

How Can Influenza Affect Lungs, In The Case Of Asthmatics?

Influenza causes further inflammation of the airways and lungs in Asthmatic people. It can also narrow down the airways and cause severe breathing difficulty. Asthmatics are 2 times more likely to be hospitalized due to flu and influenza in COPD patients multiplies your complications since it leads to wheezing and shortness of breath.

How To Avoid The Flu Attack In Case of Asthmatics?

Annual influenza vaccination is the primary and most effective way to prevent influenza and its complications. World Health Organization (WHO) recommends annual vaccination for people with chronic lung disease including Asthma.

Influenza or flu vaccines get formulized based on the seasons to fight the everchanging viruses. Flu vaccines shield the body against seasonal viruses and provide immunity against contracting influenza.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India recommends annual vaccination for people with chronic illnesses such as COPD, Bronchial Asthma, Heart Disease, Liver Disease, Kidney Disease, Blood Disorders, Cancer and for those who are immunocompromised.2

An influenza vaccination is recommended every year because the vaccine is updated every year to keep up with the changing virus.3

Who Can Take These Vaccines?

Asthmatics of all age groups above 6 months can take this vaccine. The doctors may also recommend pneumococcal vaccine for protection against pneumonia, meningitis and other infections found in blood as pneumococcal pneumonia is a serious complication caused due to influenza.

When Is The Right Time To Take Vaccine?

It is important to get vaccinated before the onset of flu season, that starts in monsoon or during winters in India. It takes 2 weeks for the vaccine to start working and protect the body from viruses.  Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, as per CDC.4 

Talk to your doctor or pulmonologist to know more about influenza vaccination.

References :

1. Sanofi Pasteur. HCP and patient testimonials. Internal data. 2018.

2. Seasonal Influenza: Guidelines for Vaccination with Influenza Vaccine, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Directorate General of Health Services, Updated on May, 2018.

3. World Health Organization. Factsheet (Influenza). Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs211/en/index.html. Accessed May 2018.

4. Prevent flu – Who needs flu vaccine and when, CDC. Available on: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccinations.htm

Disclaimer: This is a part of the public awareness initiative on influenza supported by Sanofi Pasteur India Pvt Ltd. The information shared here is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. One should consult a registered healthcare professional for any health-related information or treatment.