Pulmonary Medicine Expert Discusses Asthma and the Flu

Posted on: January 17, 2014

Take Steps to Avoid the Flu, Especially if You Have Asthma

By Harlan Weinberg, MD Medical Director, Pulmonary Medicine & Critical Care Medicine, Northern Westchester Hospital

Patients who have a diagnosis of asthma, as well as other clinical conditions, such as COPD, Cystic Fibrosis, Congestive Heart Failure, Diabetes Mellitus, and Cancer, are all at increased risk of developing flu-related complications.

Asthma is a disorder of the lungs characterized by chronic inflammation of the airways. Acute influenza may lead to worsening of asthma/asthmatic exacerbation, pneumonia and ultimately, respiratory failure, for both children and adults.

Recommendations for asthma patients include the following:
1. Yearly Influenza/Flu Vaccine — The “FluMist” Nasal Spray Vaccine should NOT be used
2. Pneumococcal Vaccine
3. Stay at home if you are sick and avoid contact with sick people;
4. Cover your cough
5. Hand washing
6. Antiviral medications such as Oseltamivir (Tamiflu), prescribed by your physician if indicated
7. Asthma Action Plan to appropriately care for your breathing problems.

Remember to be a proactive patient regarding your asthma and continue to speak with your physician about any new problems or concerns.

You can also check out these additional resources for more information:
1. Pulmonary Rehabilitation services for adults and children (7 years of age and older) are offered at Northern Westchester Hospital.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
3. Knowledge of Medicine

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