Swine Flu, Asthma and Australia

Some new information has come out on swine flu and asthma recently, and although it affects those in the southern hemisphere more than my part of the world right now, I’m signal-boosting for everyone because it contains some good information.

Namely, the National Asthma Council Australia has issued a flu alert for all the asthma sufferers on the continent. The group was motivated to do so by this New York report showing 80% of swine flu hospitalizations in that city occurred because of underlying medical conditions, with asthma the highest risk factor at 41%.

Those numbers, along with the fact that Australians and other southern hemisphere folks are entering the typical winter cold and flu season – which already carries higher risks for asthmatics even without a pandemic – are prompting the alert, which recommends this preventative step:

Whether you are sick or not – if you have asthma and have not seen your GP in the last six months it is important you make an immediate appointment with your doctor to check the functioning and health of your lungs. Check with your GP that you are prescribed the right treatment, that you can use your inhaler correctly and that your current lung function is good. If this is all in order and you have a written asthma action plan that will guide you through any deterioration, you should be confident that you are prepared for a potentially difficult winter flu season,” said Associate Professor Matthew Peters, Respiratory Physician, Head of Respiratory Medicine at Concord Hospital, Sydney. – National Asthma Council Australia

That strikes me as excellent advice for those of us in the middle of summer, too. The time to check up on my daughter’s lung function and fine hone her maintenance and action plans is now, in June, before we enter the fall cold and flu season in the middle of a pandemic. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m making an appointment for AG sooner rather than later.

4 responses to “Swine Flu, Asthma and Australia”

  1. Asthma Mom » Swine Flu and Asthma says:

    […] Alert Issued for Australians with Asthma […]

  2. kerri says:

    Good plan on the doctors appointment. I have one next Monday–good timing!

  3. Asthma Mom » Swine Flu, Asthma and Australia | Asthma News, Causes, Types, Symptoms, Treatment, Medication, Facts and informations says:

    […] View original post here: Asthma Mom » Swine Flu, Asthma and Australia […]

  4. Marie says:

    Taken from http://www.newsday.com, speaking about cases in New York City: “The most common risk factor detected among confirmed swine flu cases in the city has been asthma, health officials said.

    Last week, the agency also reported 567 swine flu hospitalizations occurring in the city’s five boroughs.

    Citywide, at least 79 percent of the swine flu patients have been younger than 50 and nearly 46 percent have been younger than 18, health officials said. Typically, the very young and the elderly are hardest hit by influenza.”

    At least they are finally admitting asthma is a significant risk factor. I regularly read the NYC online news and I know a lot of people were very frustrated by the way health officials were refusing to be specific about the risk factors. They kept hinting that the people who died had multiple health conditions and were debilitated, which was generally not the case.

    I still don’t know what to do about the steriod use issue. Will it hurt you by depressing your immune response and making you vulnerable to pneumonia if you have the flu or help you by preventing an over-reaction of the immune system (the cytokine storm)? If anyone can get a straight answer to that please post it here.

    I just went through a very stressful month with my son in college (who lives at home). There were at least 7 people at his college with the swine flu, so of course he picks this particular time to get a respiratory infection! His flu test was negative but he still had the usual asthma flare with this infection. I struggled with whether or not to let him take the oral steroids he was given. He was miserable from the constant coughing but I was afraid the steroid’s immune – depressing action would leave him vulnerable to the flu. We eventually decided he should take a very low dose of the prednisone over a three day break from school and then switch to the inhaled steroid. Like I said, stressful month – and to make it worse, I have asthma and a heart condition and a disabled a daughter with a weak immune system. There was some serious mask and hand sanitizer usage in this house!