As news of the swine flu situation develops, it is important for those with asthma or other respiratory conditions to be aware of the basic facts about influenza and how it is spread, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
“The typical influenza vaccine does not provide immunity to swine flu,” said Executive Vice President Thomas B. Casale, MD, FAAAAI. “As with other influenza viruses, this virus typically attacks the respiratory tract. So if you have a chronic respiratory condition like asthma, it can take a turn for the worse, exacerbating your asthma.”
While people with asthma or other chronic lung conditions are at a higher risk for developing complications from influenza, it is important to be attentive to the presence of symptoms but not to panic. Catching the symptoms early is key because the antiviral drugs used to combat swine flu are most effective if started as soon as possible, and might not work if administered more than 48 hours after becoming ill.
The symptoms of swine flu include fever, tiredness, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with the virus have also reported a runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
“Any individual exhibiting signs of swine flu should call his or her physician to discuss those symptoms. A doctor is best prepared to advise whether or not an in-person visit should be made,” noted Casale. Also, patients should avoid contact with other individuals as much as possible and practice good hygiene, especially hand washing.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has nearly 6,500 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries.
For useful tips to help reduce flu transmission, visit www.aaaai.org.