With flu season just around the corner, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) is recommending that people with asthma and other chronic health conditions receive a flu vaccination as soon as possible.
Each year, millions of people in the United States get influenza. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 36,000 people per year in the United States die from influenza, and over 200,000 people have to be admitted to the hospital as a result of the flu.
Influenza is typically spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing via respiratory droplets. If someone with the flu coughs on you, there is a high chance you will develop flu symptoms within four days after the initial exposure to that person.
Common flu symptoms include:
-- Muscle aches and tenderness
-- Dry cough
-- Sore throat
-- Runny nose
"Symptoms of influenza can be especially severe for patients with respiratory diseases, such as asthma," said Richard A. Nicklas, MD, FAAAAI, Chair of the AAAAI's Asthma Diagnosis and Treatment Interest Section. "In severe cases, influenza can cause pneumonia, may require hospitalization and sometimes can be fatal.
" Research has found that the flu vaccine decreases the risk of asthma exacerbations in patients by as much as 22% to 41%. In addition, it can also protect against acute asthma exacerbations in children. Vaccinating all children with asthma could prevent up to 78% of asthma hospitalizations and emergency room visits during influenza seasons.
The flu season usually ranges from November through March, and peaks in December, January and February. It takes approximately two weeks to develop immunity from the vaccine so it is important to get vaccinated each fall in October or November, before the flu season begins.
Contrary to popular belief, you cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. If you feel sick with flu-like symptoms after being vaccinated, you may have caught another respiratory virus or already had the flu virus in your system when you received the vaccine.
Discuss any questions that you may have regarding influenza or the flu vaccine with your physician. For more information, visit the AAAAI Web site, http://www.aaaai.org, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site, http://www.cdc.gov/nip/flu, or call the CDC Immunization Hot Line at (800) 232-2522.
The AAAAI's How the Allergist/Immunologist Can Help: Consultation and Referral Guidelines Citing the Evidence provide information to assist patients and health care professionals in determining when a patient may need consultation or ongoing specialty care by the allergist/immunologist.
Patients should see an allergist/immunologist if they:
-- Need to confirm the diagnosis of asthma
-- Need education on asthma and guidance in techniques for self-management.
-- Need for daily asthma reliever medications
-- Are not using medications as prescribed, and this is limiting their ability to control their asthma
-- Have potentially fatal asthma, meaning a prior severe, life threatening episode that included intubation
To find an allergist/immunologist in your area, call the AAAAI Physician Referral and Information Line at (800) 822-2762 or visit the AAAAI Web site at http://www.aaaai.org/physref/.
The AAAAI is the largest professional medical specialty organization in the United States representing allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 6,000 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries. The AAAAI serves as an advocate to the public by providing educational information through its Web site at http://www.aaaai.org.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI)