Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA)

Higher Risk of Complications Makes Preventive Measures Essential for People with Asthma

Fairfax, VA, April 30, 2009 – Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA), the leading patient advocacy group for allergy and asthma, provides guidelines for people with asthma to prevent H1N1, often referred to as swine flu, and prepare themselves in the event they contract this virus that is threatening to become a global pandemic.

Although those with asthma are not necessarily more prone to coming down with H1N1 flu, their symptoms can be worse due to their compromised immune systems.

Influenza attacks the respiratory system, which means that those with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and related respiratory conditions are also at higher risk of developing complications from the virus. As a result, prevention and preparation are essential.

Nancy Sander, President and Founder of AANMA, said, “If symptoms occur, early intervention is critical. Just because we are at greater risk of serious flu complications doesn’t mean we can’t be well-armed and weather the storm.  The best insurance plan is to have a 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.

“Access to inhaled corticosteroids and other appropriate medications, annual flu shots and specialty care are among top recommendations that, when followed, eliminate death and suffering and reduce direct costs as high as $37 billion each year.”

AANMA offers the following tips:

  • Make sure you have an up-to-date, written asthma-management plan from your physician, as detailed by the NAEPP Guidelines.
  • Make sure you have a fresh, full supply of medications.
  • Practice good hygiene, especially hand washing.
  • Stock up on food and entertainment (movies, books, games) to minimize time spent in public places.
  • Symptoms of H1N1 flu include fever; extreme tiredness; lack of appetite; and coughing.

Some people with the virus have also reported a runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
People with asthma are also advised to steer clear of Relenza, an antiviral medication sometimes prescribed for the flu instead of Tamiflu. Some patients using Relenza have had bronchospasm (wheezing) or serious breathing problems. Many but not all of these patients had previous asthma or COPD. Relenza has not been shown to shorten the duration of influenza in people with these diseases.”

Sander continued, “The key is to treat symptoms early according to the written asthma action plan.  Although the NAEPP Guidelines are federally funded and proven to save lives, reduce suffering and save money — many Medicaid children and disabled adults do not have access to this level of care and necessary medications. For this reason, we are asking Congress to ensure that all patients, including those who receive federal and state health assistance, have access to NAEPP Guidelines care. By making this goal a reality, we can eliminate suffering and death due to asthma and greatly reduce direct costs associated with poorly managed symptoms.”

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 website and award-winning publications, Allergy & Asthma Today magazine and The MA Report newsletter, are consumer lifelines to medical news and healthy living. For more information, call 800.878.4403 or visit