What to Do When You Get Sick

Steer clear of asthma flare-ups when you get a cold or the flu

When you have asthma, getting a cold, flu, or lung infection can be especially difficult. Not only can your symptoms be more severe, but you’re also at a higher risk of developing serious complications. Here’s what you need to know about how to manage your asthma when you get sick.

Start with prevention
The best way to avoid the flu is to get a flu shot every year. Washing your hands often, keeping your hands away from your face, and avoiding people who are sick can help protect you from catching a virus. Also ask your doctor if you need a pneumonia shot.

Contact your doctor
While you may be tempted to try to sleep it off if you do get a cold, waiting it out is not a good idea if you have asthma. Contact your doctor as soon as you feel symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing, runny nose, or fatigue.

Follow your asthma action plan
If you’re sick and you start to notice signs of an asthma attack, follow the steps outlined on your asthma action plan. If your symptoms don’t improve after adjusting your medication, call your doctor or seek emergency care. If you don’t already have an asthma action plan, talk to your doctor soon about making one.

Take a day off
If you have a cold, it’s very important to take the time you need to get better. Having asthma puts you at a greater risk for complications such as strep throat, bronchitis, or pneumonia. Be sure to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and continue to take your asthma medications as prescribed. Stay in touch with your doctor as you recover if you have any concerns.

Watch the Flow
Using a peak flow meter when you are sick is a good way to monitor your asthma. If it drops below 50% of your personal best, call your doctor.

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