Anyone who has ever had the flu virus knows it is far from a pleasant experience. Headaches, high fevers, chills, coughing and aching body are just a few of the many debilitating symptoms. The flu virus can be very serious for people with asthma as they are at an even greater risk if they pick up the flu virus. The flu virus causes swelling and narrowing of the airways in the lungs, along with excess mucus and these three factors can trigger an asthma attack. For some patients, an asthma attack can prove fatal.
Asthma Society CEO, Sarah O'Connor, said: "Every effort should be made to avoid contracting the highly contagious flu virus by members of the public, but especially people with asthma. People with asthma are of a higher risk of the flu leading to complications for them and possible death, if they have a serious asthma attack. We've compiled a list of tips on how to avoid contracting the flu virus, along with a list of what should be done if you get the virus and we are urging everyone with asthma in Longford to follow this guidance."
Top tips to help you avoid catching and spreading the flu virus:
- Get the flu vaccine in September or October
- Wash your hands frequently with hot soapy water to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the flu- use hand sanitiser where available
- Get plenty of sleep and eat healthy- this can help boost your immunity and decrease the risk of contracting the flu.
- If you suspect someone has a cold or the flu, keep your distance where possible.
- Cover your mouth when sneezing using a tissue- the tissue should be binned afterwards
- Try to get into the habit of not touching your face as this is often how the flu is spread
- Regularly clean hard surfaces such as your mobile phone, keyboard and door handles.
If you catch the flu, you should:
- Schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately
- Remember to use your preventative inhaler everyday, which will help control inflammation in your lungs- this will make you less likely to have an asthma attack
- Improve your inhaler technique to get the best benefit from your medication- watch our inhaler technique videos on asthma.ie for best practice
- Always carry your reliever inhaler with you wherever you go
- If using your inhaler more than twice a week, contact your GP
- Rest as much as possible- the flu can be extremely tiring and you will need all your energy to fight it
- Stay hydrated- drink plenty of water
- Stay home from work/school when you experience flu symptoms, to rest and also to avoid spreading the virus.