CDC advises extra vigilance for these patients
Fairfax, VA, Sept. 9, 2009 – Health experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are advising children and adults with asthma and other respiratory issues to take extra precautions against H1N1, also referred to as swine flu, and to see their healthcare providers as soon as possible if they experience flu-like symptoms.
Although those with asthma are not necessarily more susceptible to H1N1 flu, they are at increased risk of developing complications from the virus. As a result, prevention and preparation are essential.
“When you have asthma, the airways are already prone to inflammation,” said Nancy Sander, President and Founder of Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA), the leading patient advocacy group for allergy and asthma. “Adding seasonal or H1N1 flu virus is like throwing fuel on the fire. That’s why it is important for children and adults with asthma to head into this season with well-controlled symptoms. For many, that means using a daily inhaled corticosteroid to reduce or prevent airway inflammation.”
CDC expects vaccinations for both seasonal and H1N1 flu to be available in the fall. “It’s important to get both the flu vaccine and the swine flu vaccine, both of which can help reduce asthma flares,” said Stuart Stoloff, MD, a family physician and clinical professor at the University of Nevada School of Medicine in Carson City, NV, and Vice Chair of AANMA’s Board of Directors.
AANMA recommends people with asthma take the following steps to prepare for flu season:
- All patients with asthma should have a customized, written asthma action plan consistent with the federally funded, evidence-based National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP)’s Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. Don’t have one? Contact your allergist or medical care provider immediately.
- Refill all your asthma medications now, as they could be in short supply during an active flu outbreak. Use the drive-through window at your pharmacy to avoid standing in line with people who may have already become infected with H1N1.
- Ask your doctor about obtaining a prescription for the antiviral medication Tamiflu® (oseltamivir, the only one recommended for both H1N1 flu and people with asthma) for use at the first sign of flu symptoms.
- Get vaccinations for both seasonal and H1N1 flu as soon as they are available.
- People with asthma should get a traditional flu shot, not the inhaled nasal spray vaccine, which has been known to cause bronchospasm in some people with asthma.
- Family members and caregivers of people with asthma should also get flu vaccinations as soon as possible.
Founded in 1985, Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics is the leading national nonprofit family organization dedicated to eliminating suffering and death due to asthma, allergies and related conditions. AANMA’s core areas of expertise are education, advocacy and outreach. The organization’s www.aanma.org website and award-winning publications, Allergy & Asthma Today magazine and The MA Report newsletter, are consumer lifelines to medical news and healthy living.