Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Asthma Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

Asthma and Flu

If you have asthma, you should do all you can to stay healthy. With asthma, any respiratory infection, including the flu, can affect your lungs, causing inflammation and airway narrowing.

About 5% to 20% of Americans get the flu each year. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized, and about 3,000 to 49,000 people die, according to the CDC. This is largely due to other infections and complications that can occur when you have the flu, particularly pneumonia.

Recommended Related to Cold & Flu

Covering Up Cold and Flu Symptoms: Beauty Tips

Your nose is red and runny; your eyes are puffy and so bloodshot they look like modern art. On top of everything else, a cold sore is threatening to blossom on your upper lip. There's no denying it, you've got a whopper of a cold -- or maybe even the flu. But you've also got a commitment you just can't break. Whether it's an important work project, that PTA dinner you're hosting, or the birthday party for your best friend, you’ve got to show up and you've got to look good -- no matter how...

Read the Covering Up Cold and Flu Symptoms: Beauty Tips article > >

People with lung problems, including those with asthma, are at higher risk of respiratory problems associated with flu. A flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu and subsequent respiratory problems associated with it, including a worsening of asthma symptoms.

What Are the Symptoms of the Flu and Asthma?

Call your doctor if you experience flu or asthma attack symptoms, including: 

  • Increased shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or wheezing
  • Coughing up increased amounts of mucus
  • Yellow- or green-colored mucus
  • Fever (temperature over 101 degrees Fahrenheit) or chills
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Sore throat, scratchy throat, or pain when swallowing
  • Sinus drainage, nasal congestion, headache, or tenderness along your upper cheekbones

What Should I Do if I Have Asthma and Get the Flu?

If you have symptoms of flu, call your doctor immediately for advice on how to prevent your asthma symptoms from worsening. Your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medicine to help reduce your flu symptoms and make changes to your asthma action plan.

Make sure you follow the instructions in your written asthma action plan to self-manage asthma and keep asthma symptoms controlled. In addition, continue to check your peak flow rate to make sure your breathing is in the safe zone.

How Can I Prevent Infections That Trigger Asthma?

There are steps you can take to help prevent infections that can trigger asthma symptoms:

  • Wash your hands. Good hygiene can decrease your chance of viral infections such as the flu. Remember to wash your hands frequently throughout the day to get rid of germs that linger on your hands. 
  • Get a flu shot. Check with your health care provider about receiving a flu shot every year. In addition, discuss the possibility of getting a pneumonia vaccine. Pneumococcus is a common cause of bacterial pneumonia, an illness that can be particularly serious in a person with asthma. 
  • Prevent sinusitis. Be aware of the symptoms of a sinus infection and report them immediately to your asthma specialist to help prevent asthma attacks.
  • Don't share asthma medication or equipment. Do not let others use your asthma drugs or equipment, including your asthma inhaler, asthma nebulizer, and nebulizer tubing and mouthpiece.

 

What Types of Flu Vaccines Are Available?

Two types of flu vaccine exist, a shot and a nasal spray.

WebMD Medical Reference

Next Article:

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

Take the WebMD Asthma assessment to get Personalized Action Plan

Start Now

Today on WebMD

Distressed woman
Slideshow
Woman holding an asthma inhaler
Article
 
Get Personalized Asthma Advice
Health Check
asthma overview
Slideshow
 
Los Angeles skyline in smog
Slideshow
man in a field with allergies
Slideshow
 
Woman holding inhaler
VIDEO
Slideshow Allergy Myths and Facts
Slideshow
 
Man outdoors coughing
Article
Lung and bronchial tube graphic
Article
 
10 Worst Asthma Cities
Slideshow
runner
Article