Navigation

asthma and the flu

I know it's only the end of August, but flu season is something we should all keep in mind.  I know back when H1N1 was really making the rounds, it hit in September really hard one year.  So…time to start thinking about flu shots.  Has anyone gotten their shot yet?  I typically wait to get the shot/mist until October.  That is usually the time the county elementary schools provide the mist for free to K-5 students.  I will take my older girls and myself to get the mist then – we can usually get it at one of the county  health dept clinics.

Be sure to check out our resource on the  and let us know what you are doing to prepare for flu season.

 

51
154

Comments 51

  • K8sMom2002

    This will be the first year I won't be getting it "on the job." In my previous job, we were given the option to have it given by one of our nurses, and it was so easy and convenient.

    This year I can either go by my health department or my pharmacy. DD usually gets hers at school. Since she's got asthma, she has to have hers by injection, but most of the other kids at her school get the mist.

  • glyncor

    I don't usually get the flu.  For me it is always bronchitis – serious bronchitis – that has gotten progressively worse over the years.  The last time I had it in April, I thought it was surely going to be the end of me.  With the development of asthma, the bronchitis instances have gotten very bad.  I would like advice on what to do to help me when I do get sick, or as a preventative when I first notice it coming on.  What can help an asthmatic?

  • Jen

    Glyncor – I don't usually get the flu either.  It had been years – like maybe 20.  Then…everyone in my house got hit with it 2 winters ago.  We had all had either the mist or shot.  It was just a bad year for the flu.  Still…we all had relatively mild cases.

    As for what to do for your asthma when you're sick, you really need to discuss a sick plan with your dr.  They may want you to up meds, add meds, etc.  

  • K8sMom2002

    I have spoken with my doctor about what to do when, and she's given me specific steps to take as far as when to use my inhaler, etc. That's helpful for me because I used to only have asthma flares when I had an upper respiratory infection — and then, boom, like you, it would turn into a killer case of bronchitis. 

    My DD's allergist updated her sick plan the last time we saw her and added a round of prednisone to keep her lungs less inflamed. 

    Definitely talk to your doctor. 

  • Gloria

    Last winter a flu induced bronchitis made me develop the bronchial asthma from which I now suffer…I never had asthma before! My internist, who is from India, told me to take Turmeric as a prevention aid because I cannot get flu shots due to an autoimmune disease. For several years I did not get the flu, but last winter it hit me hard! I will continue to take Turmeric and hope for the best in the future. How I wish people would just stay home when they are sick! 

  • K8sMom2002

    Gloria, bummer on not being able to take a flu shot … but I'm glad your internist is working with you to try figure out some options. 

    And yeah, it would be terrific if people would stay home when they're sick. Unfortunately two things happen:

    1 – Many employers and schools insist that perfect attendance = good work ethic, and they put carrots and sticks in place to encourage attendance. 

    My DD's school is a perfect example – kids who make an 85 or better and no absences during the semester can exempt their final semester exam. 

    The incubation period of the flu makes it easy to spread before you even know you're sick. The says this:

    The typical incubation period for influenza is 1—4 days (average: 2 days). Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.

    But if EVERYONE who COULD get a flu shot actually would, it would better protect folks like you who can't get a flu shot. There's something called  that helps stop the cycle of a contagious illness like the flu. So encourage everyone around you to get the flu shot!

    I know I started getting the flu shot for my mom, who had COPD and had been on a ventilator. Both DD and I have asthma now, too, so I get it for her and for me, and I always encourage my DH to get it to help protect both of us.

  • Kathy P

    We do turmeric and ginger here – I make a "tonic" of turmeric, ginger and lemon. We mix it with sparkling water to drink. I've also used it to flavor water kefir.

    Turmeric and ginger both have anti-inflammatory properties. Our allergist suggested trying it for my ds who has chronic sinusitis. We need to keep his inflammation in check or he winds up w/ sinus infections. I can't get him to take supplements, so we opt for whole foods. We don't eat a lot of foods that normally contain turmeric and ginger though. Allergist was good with trying it either way. It's not one of those quick fix type things and it can be hard to see if it's helping. But he seems to be perkier when we have it on hand and he drinks it, so I'll continue to make it.

    But as with any "food that can be medicine" it's important to make sure it won't interact with any medications you are taking or conditions you have. This is critical since the amount in supplements is likely to be far higher than what you would get adding it as an ingredient in a meal or whatever. And if you take things as supplements, it's important to find a trusted source to make sure you are getting a pure and reliable product.

  • glyncor

    Gloria, my asthma also began with chronic bronchitis.  I am trying turmeric, too, and I am hoping it will help prevent illnesses this winter.  I do get flu shots, but unfortunately things go around my church family like wildfire, so I usually get something there because we are so involved in church activities.

  • Gloria

    My iinrernist told me look into neem oil as a suppliment as well as turmeric, but when I researched it, I found that it can have negative effects on autoimmune conditions, but I will look into ginger.

  • Jen

    Have people gotten their flu shots yet?  I am seeing more places advertise that they have them. 

  • Kathy P

    Ironically, when I was at the doc on Friday, she made a remark about flu shots. They have the flu shots in, but people are too sick to get them since there are so many viruses going around.

  • K8sMom2002

    Well, I usually get mine in October, so that's coming up fast. This year, I'll have to go hunt mine up, probably at my health department or local pharmacy.

    I want to wait long enough that it will last me through the peak of flu season around here (it runs a little later than other parts of the country, maybe because we're in the south with warmer winters?), but not so long that I miss out on available shots or don't get vaccinated in time for it to kick in. Doesn't it take at least a couple of weeks for your body to build up its immunity? 

    DD will get hers via the school. The health department comes in and gives them to the students. 

  • Jen

    I think it does take a couple of weeks for the shot to take full effect.  In our county, the health department gives the flu mist to elementary school kids, at school.  If the rest of us want to get it from the health department, we need to visit one of their clinics.  Flu mist is usually done in schools in October, so once we know when the younger 2 are getting it, I'll figure out plans for the rest of us.

  • Gloria

    Today I went to see an allergist. She is referring me to a rheumatologist. My autoimmune disease precludes me from getting regular flu and pneumonia immunizations, but she thinks there there may be vaccines with killed viruses that I could use. I guess the most commonly used vaccines have live virus? I am encouraged and hopeful that I can find some help with this! Anyone else have this predicament?

  • Melanie Carver

    Hi @Gloria,

    I'm glad you have a referral to a rheumatologist! My kid has an autoimmune disease (as well as asthma) and getting the flu shot is an important part of keeping him healthy each year.

    The flu shots are killed virus. The flu nasal spray is live virus. Anyone who has asthma or immune disorders should not get the flu nasal spray. (And actually, the CDC doesn't recommend the nasal spray for anyone this year because it was shown to be ineffective.)

    My son gets his flu shots administered in the hospital clinic and they keep an eye on him for about 20-30 minutes before they let us go.

    The risk of a problem to the flu shot is much smaller than the risk that the flu poses to my son because he gets very sick, very fast. 

    I hope your rheumatologist comes up with a good plan for you!

  • Gloria

    My autoimmune disease is Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome (similar to Lupus). Previously this caused me to get a neurological injury in my spine that left me with parasthesia, disability and pain. That neurological condition is Transverse Myelitis. Thank goodness I have largely recovered from this stroke-like condition that occurred in my back at  L6-7. My internist looked up the vaccines on the CDC website and told me I could not get them. Lack of vaccination was what caused me to get bronchitis and subsequently my adult onset asthma. Dominoes!  Anyway, hopefully there are things out there that will be appropriate vaccines.

  • Melanie Carver

    Gloria, I am happy to hear you have largely recovered from the neuro injury. It is so difficult to manage multiple complex medical conditions.

    I hope your new rheumatologist is able to find a safe solution for you to keep you protected.

    Keep us updated! 

  • K8sMom2002

    Gloria, I do hope you can find a solution! My daughter's godfather had a kidney transplant and had to take immunosuppressant drugs to keep his immune system from attacking his kidney. His transplant doctors insisted that he get a flu shot and a pneumonia shot each year BECAUSE of his weak immune system. 

    They advised him, as Melanie mentioned above, to get the flu shot, since the virus in it cannot give you the flu — it is dead and inactivated. 

    Different doctors advise different courses of action, so I'm hoping that you can get some clarity. If it's safe for you to have, a flu shot would be a great way to protect yourself. 

    Here's a link to the CDC's explanation .

    Melanie, my doctors also told me the flu shot was the better choice for folks with asthma. So my daughter and I both get the shot every year. 

  • Gloria

    My immune system is not weak, I just have this one insane kind of antibody (anticardiolipin) that wants to mess with me.

    i appreciate the advice, especially about the post immunization monitoring. That is definately something to bring up discuss the upcoming exam.

  • K8sMom2002

    Gloria, that had to be tough. To think that one antibody can cause that sort of issue or problem! I'm really glad that you recovered from that neuro injury — do you still have any lasting affects from it, pain or weakness wise? 

    It shows me that you are a fighter, but I knew that already, from the way that you tackle doing all that you can to improve your health!

    Hoping you get a good plan from the rheumatologist … do keep us posted!

  • Gloria

    Thank you, K8SMOM, that is kind of you to say. Yes, I have had to be a fighter and be very proactive about my health. I do have a few residual issues (other than the vaccine problem): some neuropathy in my feet and a bit of a balance problem, but I count myself very fortunate because many people, including children, never recover. They are often in wheelchairs or on crutches for life. Thank you for your concern and advice!

  • K8sMom2002

    Your attitude is inspiring to me! I'm glad you had good doctors who helped you with your fight! Do you do any physical therapy to help with the balance problem? 

  • Gloria

    I never received PT.  My neurologist asked me what I was doing. When I told him, he said, "keep doing it." Since I had a hard time standing up, I worked out on my Total Gym, which is, by the way a great exercise machine. Although it sounds a bit crazy, I also did (and still do) practice positive visualization. I see my heart sending blood to that dead bundle of nerves and with each heartbeat the nerves form a little bit of a new path around the dead zone. I should try that with my bronchials, too! I also have worked on letting my brain retrain my body to perform routine tasks. My big goal is to be able to hike in the canyon country. That will take practice with movements that are not routine to me…and I will be able to do more of that in one year four months…retirement!

  • Gloria

    K8SMOM, I just read the CDC article. The rub with me is the reference to Guillan Barre, which is a neurological condition similar to Transverse Myelitis. We'll see what the rheumatologist says… 

  • K8sMom2002

    It sounds like your doctor was pleased with your very own DIY therapy! And, no, I don't think positive visualization is crazy — anything that helps, anything that motivates us, is great!

    There is a lot we don't know about the mind-body connection. There's a lot we just can't explain. I like the way that you've mentioned on this "thread" and other "threads" that you really talk to your doctors about different things to try and get their input and advice … that's the way to do it!

    Have you ever hiked in canyon country before? That sounds like so much fun and adventure! Definitely a motivating goal to keep yourself focused for that 1 year, 4 months!

  • Jen

    (And actually, the CDC doesn't recommend the nasal spray for anyone this year because it was shown to be ineffective.)

    Interesting since the flu mist is what our county health department gives out to elementary school kids.  Hmmmm…wonder if they will do it this year.

  • Gloria

    I used to do a lot of hiking and scrambling in the canyons. It is truly wonderful. I stopped short of rapelling, though. (I have a healthy respect for heights.)

    When I first had my neurological injury I could barely walk. My posture was very hyperextended and I dragged one foot. Although I was never in a wheelchair, I did use a cane for a while. I also dropped things. I formulated a goal, which was to be able to hike again. I am almost 10 years out from the injury, and have come a long way.

    People in general were very rude! They would talk to me like something was wrong with me mentally. Let me tell you, that really taught me to show all people respect and to not judge them based on physical differences! A good lesson to always remember.

  • K8sMom2002

    Gloria, I think we posted about the same time — I saw that reference to Guillain Barre, and I wondered if that's why your internist said no. Hopefully your new rheumatologist will have some experience in this and will be able to advise you. 

    My DD would like to do more hiking — we are in the Eastern part of the US, so no canyons for us to explore, but we have woods and some hill country in the northern part of our state. 

    And yes, people do tend to be rude to folks with physical differences, and it is a very good lesson not to pre-judge others by their appearances. How did you set those rude folks straight? 

    Jen, we've always been told that DD couldn't take the flu mist because if her asthma. It really bummed her out that her friends didn't have to have a shot, but she did. 

    I'm thinking they won't offer the mist this year. 

  • Kathy P

    That's an awesome goal Gloria! Sounds like you have come a long way! WTG!

    I've seen news pieces on the . At least in children. Effectiveness always varies year to year based on how well they guess which strains will be prevalent and how much they mutate in reality. 

  • Jen

    Just read the article.  Ugh.  Sounds like they *might* try to get it right for future years.  If the school system and county health dept aren't offering the mist, I will definitely have to work on bribes for my girls to take the shot.  The older 2 were awful this summer when we went to get their required immunizations.  

  • Jen

    The school sent home a letter the other day to say that they weren't offering the mist this year.  Not  a shocker.  The county health department added a few walk in clinics for the shot, so will likely hit up one of those.  Pretty sure I will wait to take care of it til dh is home to help.  We will likely have to pin down the older 2 and they're almost as tall as I am.

  • K8sMom2002

    Oh, gracious, Jen … I've never realized until now how blessed I am that DD got over her needle phobia early. It's the silver-lining of having a bleeding disorder — those kiddos get turned into a virtual pincushion, what with all the tests and infusions they have to have. Thank goodness DD doesn't have to do daily infusions.

    This reminds me that I need to schedule my flu shot. It's October! Got to get it done — and I've got to get DD's and DH's scheduled as well. 

  • Jen

    It's weird.  They didn't have needle phobia til they were like 10 or so.  

  • Jen

    I think I may brave taking them alone on Friday, but also may wait til Monday so dh can come with.  We plan to go to Target since they offer a $5 gift card for each flu shot. A little incentive for the kids.  dd's 2 and 3 were on board.  DD 1 doesn't want to go to Target because she's worried someone she knows from school will see her acting foolish.  Um, kinda the point.

    So…who else has gotten their flu shot already?  Where did you go?

  • K8sMom2002

    I knew I forgot something! I have to call the health department to do ours, as DD's other medical issues make it less than desirable to have it done at a pharmacy.

    Good luck! 

  • Jen

    Done.  All 6 of us.  Dh got his at work a couple weeks ago.  I took the younger 3 to Target.  Turns out that in the state of MD, kids under the age of 9 can't have their immunizations done by a pharmacist.  So…Friday, #'s2 and 3 got shots, along with myself.  I took ds and dd1 to urgent care for flu shots on Saturday. Ds did great!  He watched a video on my phone and only looked up once when he was first pricked.  I guess that was enough for dd1 to suck it up and just get it without a fuss.

    So…who still needs to get a flu shot?

  • K8sMom2002

    Dang. That would be the three of us. Aiyiyi … why do I keep forgetting this?? That and a haircut, but the flu shots are the most important!

  • Jen

    Target was great for it  - insurance covered it and we each got a $5 gift card.  I *think* CVS (bc Target pharmacies are now CVS) might have the same deal.

  • Mandy

    Just waiting for the blitz at work Then will get everyone else done. I've been preparing the  kids so I hope it goes ok… fingers crossed.

  • Kathy P

     on getting everyone done Jen! 

    Mandy – hopefully the kids won't freak out to much.

  • glyncor

    I have been waiting to get through this pain management shot event.  I didn't want to get it before the shot, and wanted to wait 2 weeks after, just to make sure the flu shot wouldn't affect my body, causing reaction of any kind with the other shot.  I hope to do it next week – 2 weeks after pain management shot.  I don't know if anyone here has ever worried about interactions such as these or not.  I may be just overthinking it.

  • K8sMom2002

    I'm not sure about that, but I do know my doctor and DD's doctor in the past has recommended that we wait until we are not sick to have vaccinations. DD's doctor's reasoning is he wanted to be sure that our immune system didn't get either over-taxed or "confused."

    However, the  say that you can still have vaccinations even with a low-grade fever and even on antibiotics, so maybe things have changed?

    I would call your primary care physician or your allergist and ask them for their advice.

  • K8sMom2002

    I called and got an appointment for our flu shot earlier today. One thing I asked about with the nurse who will be giving it (we get ours at our health department) was additives/preservatives, since my DD is allergic to corn — no dextrose in either of the shot vials they have.

    I also asked about whether we should have waited to take the shot. The nurse told me no, that current recommendations were to hold off only if you were on high doses of steroids, as that could create a problem with the vaccine's booting up of the immune system. Otherwise, even on antibiotics, you can take the shot.

  • K8sMom2002

    Yes, my family is still one of the holdouts for a variety of reasons … ugh, I've never delayed this long, and it's making me nervous. Thankfully there's not a whole lot of reported flu activity in our region, but that doesn't make me any less nervous. Tuesday is the day!!

    In an off-topic mention … we had our Christmas program at church the other day, and I thought about @glyncor and singing in the choir. Hope that the pain management is working and that the flu shot did its job!

  • K8sMom2002

    Just updating this thread … got my flu shot this AM (with my pneumonia vaccine as well.) And my DH will take DD this afternoon. She has to wait in the office for 20 minutes after her shot as she has a food allergy to corn, so that's why he's taking her. While he's there, he'll get his flu shot as well. 

    Then we'll be DONE. 

  • Jen

    So…is everyone all good and caught up on their vaccinations now?

  • K8sMom2002

    Yep! Our household is DONE. We are all zapped. Give us a few days for our immunity to kick in, and we are statistically less likely to catch the flu!