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Cold and Flu - Illustration of a asthma inhaler

Cold and Flu in Asthma – Don’t risk it!

The flu or influenza is a viral infection that targets the lungs, throat and the nose. Unlike asthma attacks, the influenza virus gets passed on whenever you cough, sneeze or when you make hand contact. But did you know that cold and flu in asthma can be considered as triggers?

 

In fact, those who have asthma may experience more severe complications even if it's mild and even when they're taking medication. Some of these complications may include:

- Students and employees lose school and work days, respectively

- Ear infection, bronchitis or pneumonia

- Severe asthma flare-ups

- Hospitalisation and even death

Preparing for the Cold and Flu Season

The truth is, cold and flu are common triggers to asthmatic people, but you can play an active role in minimising the risk and the symptoms that follow.

The key to good asthma management is to make sure that you're well-prepared for the flu and winter seasons.

 

Here are a few tips to get you started:

GP Asthma review

You should visit your GP every 6 to 12 months to make sure that your asthma medications are still adequate, as conditions may change over time.

In an asthma review, your doctor will do the following:

 

- Ask pertinent questions

- Test your inhaler technique

- Confirm if you're taking the right medication

- Assess your asthma control

- Check your Asthma Action Plan

Daily use of your preventer

Preventers work extremely well when you use them everyday because they reduce airway inflammation, making them less sensitive and therefore, reducing severity.

Less severe symptoms means you'll be able to better control your condition and lessen the likelihood of flare-ups from happening.

Do you have an Asthma Action Plan?

An Asthma Action Plan is something you should plan with your doctor in order to get clear instructions on what to do during flare-ups.

Moreover, part of the program should explain how you can manage asthma whenever you have the flu or a cold.

 

A written Asthma Action Plan will give you the following benefits:

 

- Fewer hospital visits and sick days

- Less asthmatic flare-ups

- Better control over your asthma condition

- Less use of reliever medication

Get your Flu Vaccination - Don't Risk it!

Prevent the complications of dealing with both asthma and flu by getting your annual flu vaccine.

It's important to get flu shots each year in your workplace, school or nearby health clinic as the influenza virus constantly evolves. By doing this you'll be protecting your family from newer strains that infect your respiratory system.

A recommended time to get the flu shot is from March to June. A timely shot serves as an early protection that peaks with the flu period in winter, which runs between June to September.

Everyone is encouraged to get flu vaccination no matter the time of year since the flu virus circulates all throughout the year.

It's especially important for individuals with asthma to get an annual flu vaccination in order to lessen flu side effects.

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Get your FREE Flu shot!

Free flu vaccination is available for the following group of people:

 

Aged 65 And Above

 

This demographic has a greater likelihood of being affected by symptoms caused by seasonal flu.

 

Pregnant Women

 

The Australian Technical Advisory Group recommends pregnant women to take their flu vaccine before the flu season begins and at any point during pregnancy.

The influenza shot protects both mother and baby during the first few months, and also lowers the risk of the child being infected in periods where they're too young to be vaccinated.

 

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders

 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can get free flu vaccines when they are between 6 months to 5 years, and when they're 15 years old and above.

 

Individuals Who Have Specific Medical Conditions

 

Individuals who are suffering from specific health conditions are more susceptible to serious complications when infected with the flu virus than others, which make them eligible for free vaccinations.

 

Those who are greater than 6 months old and have the following can get a free flu shot:

 

- Diabetes

- Kidney disease

- Chronic lung condition

- Heart Disease

- Blood disorders

- Impaired immunity

- Nervous system diseases that affect breathing

- Severe asthma, including ones that require frequent visits to the doctor or multiple medications

- Children aged between 6 months to 10 years who are taking aspirin long-term

 

Speak with your physician, vaccination provider or Aboriginal Health Worker to see if you're eligible for the free flu vaccine. You may also ask your territory health department or local state representative about free vaccines for your children.

 

As of today, there are two new flu vaccines for people who are aged 65 and above. Speak to your doctor about getting the newer vaccines. It's also important to note that all flu vaccines are categorized according to age and that the doctor should ask about the age of your child before administering one.

 

Flu vaccines can be obtained from a range of providers, including general practices, pharmacies, community health clinics, Aboriginal Medical Services and more. Employees can get their flu vaccines at their place of work when offered.

 

To get more information about the National Immunisation Program and flu, you can call 1800 671 811 or visit health.gov.au/immunisation.

How You can Stop the Spread of the Flu and Colds

You can stop the spreading of highly contagious influenza with three simple steps:

 

  1. Cover your sneeze and cough
  2. Wash your hands regularly
  3. Stay home if you have the flu to prevent it from spreading

 

Keep in mind that the flu virus can stay on surfaces such as toilets, lift buttons, door knobs and hand rails for up to 48 hours, and can potentially spread if another individual touches the surface, then puts their hand in their nose or mouth.

 

Use a tissue or a handkerchief, or cough into your elbow when you cough or sneeze to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Dispose tissues into a bin as soon as possible, then wash your hands to thoroughly eliminate the germs.

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Aitor is a Registered Nurse (AHPRA registration NMW0001159845) with over 17 years experience in General Nursing, Emergency Nursing and Corporate Health. He loves Flu, works with Flu, studies Flu, writes about Flu and ironically, he’s had the Flu.

He is the Nurse Consultant at Corporate Care and a proud member of the Australian National Padel Team.