Cold & Flu Season is Here
It’s Time to Prepare and Prevent!
Your Lungs in Flu Season
A stuffy nose, sore throat or cough caused by a cold or the flu can be a nuisance. But if you have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), even a minor respiratory infection can mean major problems. A cold or the flu can trigger symptoms related to reversible airway obstruction, such as wheezing and chest tightness, that could last for a number of days or even weeks. Asthma or COPD symptoms are often more severe with a respiratory infection than at other times. They may not respond as well to the usual daily controller asthma and COPD medications and may require treatment with a short-acting beta agonist such as albuterol. There are several seasonal products that can help you manage your asthma/COPD symptoms or help treat colds and the flu.
Is the Flu Near You?
Cold and flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways. In past years, seasonal flu activity typically reached its peak in the U.S. in January or February, with flu activity occurring as late as May. However, this year the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus (previously called “novel H1N1” or “swine flu”) caused illness, hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. during the summer months when influenza is typically very uncommon. It is not known when flu activity will be at its most intense (peak), what viruses will circulate or how long the season might last. In fact, many areas (click here to see map) are already experiencing outbreaks.
There is concern that the H1N1 virus may cause this flu season to be worse than a regular flu season, so it is even more important for those who suffer from asthma or COPD to proactively manage their condition. Even a minor respiratory infection, such as a cold or the flu, can lead to major problems. To learn more, see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about cold and flu. The Flu and Asthma Resource Center provides tips to help you and your loved ones get through the cold and flu season.
What To Do If You Have Asthma or COPD
If you’re a patient with asthma or COPD, be sure to continue taking your daily controller medication (e.g., inhaled corticosteroids) as prescribed by your physician to maintain good lung health and also have a rescue inhaler (e.g., albuterol) on hand at all times for quick relief of acute symptoms and exacerbations. In addition, remember to check the expiration date to make sure your inhaler has not expired. It’s also a good idea to have an extra inhaler on hand in case of emergencies.