Asthma: Limit asthma attacks caused by colds or fluA cold or the flu can trigger an asthma attack. Here's why — and how to keep your sneeze from turning into a wheeze.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
A stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, fever, or other signs and symptoms caused by a respiratory infection cold or flu (influenza) virus can be a nuisance for anyone. But if you have asthma, even a mild cold can lead to wheezing and tightness in your chest. Colds and the flu are among the most common causes of asthma flare-ups, especially in young children.
Regular asthma medications may fail to relieve asthma symptoms associated with a cold or the flu. Also, asthma symptoms caused by a respiratory infection may last for several days to weeks.
There's no sure way to keep yourself or your child from getting a cold or the flu. But taking steps to avoid getting sick — and taking the right steps when you do — can help.
Preventing colds and the flu
Take these steps to help avoid getting sick:
Oct. 23, 2014
- Get an annual flu shot unless your doctor recommends against it. Most adults and children older than 6 months of age should get a flu vaccination every year. If you do get a vaccination, you'll need a shot (injection), since nasal spray vaccinations aren't recommended for people with asthma.
- Ask your doctor if you need a pneumonia vaccination. Having asthma increases your risk of developing pneumonia after getting the flu.
- Avoid contact with anyone who's sick. Germs that cause respiratory infections are easily passed from person to person.
- Wash your hands often. This kills the germs that can cause respiratory infections. Carry a bottle of hand sanitizer to kill germs while you're on the go.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. These are the points where germs enter your body.
See more In-depth
- Bailey W, et al. Trigger control to enhance asthma management. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 19, 2014.
- Viral infections and asthma. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=8&sub=17&cont=379. Accessed Sept. 19, 2014.
- Flu and people with asthma. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/asthma/. Accessed Sept. 19, 2014.
- National Asthma Education and Prevention Program: Expert Panel Report III: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/asthma/asthgdln.htm. Accessed Sept. 19, 2014.