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Asthma Sufferers At A Higher Risk Of Catching H1N1

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"Most of the time if they are concerned about flu, they'll have a high fever and they'll feel very badly," said Dr. Lynn Wiens, Board Certified Allergist. "Most of the time if they are concerned about flu, they'll have a high fever and they'll feel very badly," said Dr. Lynn Wiens, Board Certified Allergist.
People with asthma are in the priority groups to receive initial doses of the H1N1 shot, but they should not use the nasal spray vaccine because of an increased risk of wheezing after it. People with asthma are in the priority groups to receive initial doses of the H1N1 shot, but they should not use the nasal spray vaccine because of an increased risk of wheezing after it.

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Asthma is a chronic conditions that leads to complications from H1N1 flu cases. It's the most common underlying condition associated with the illness.

Patients with asthma are at a higher risk of catching the H1N1 flu strain and a big concern from that is the risk of pneumonia.

"Most of the time if they are concerned about flu, they'll have a high fever and they'll feel very badly," said Dr. Lynn Wiens, Board Certified Allergist.

H1N1 is a health risk in itself, but is intensified when coupled with a chronic condition like asthma.

"Because of the disease process, it's one of what we call inflammation and so if you have asthma and you have a viral infection like the H1N1 on top of that, then because of the extra inflammation it makes your symptoms worse and puts you at a higher risk for having more pneumonias," said Dr. Wiens.

With the vaccine in short supply, doctors are urging asthma patients to take their health into their own hands.

If you have asthma, make sure you talk with your doctor about forming an asthma action plan for daily treatment and for control of worsening symptoms.

"What one does is if you have an increase in your symptoms of asthma, coughing or wheezing, there are inhalers that you can increase. You can take other precautions like measuring when your peak flow is so you make sure that it's not dipping down to dangerously low levels," said Dr. Wiens.

To protect your health, take steps to prevent the flu like:

  • Good hand washing
  • Make sure your asthma symptoms are under control
  • Follow your asthma action plan
  • Take medicine as prescribed
  • Have extra supplies of medicine
  • Get the regular seasonal flu shot and the H1N1 shot as soon as you can
  • Monitor your health so you know what's normal and what's not
  • Watch for fever, cough, and shortness of breath or shallow breathing

"If you don't have any of those symptoms, then there's good indication that you don't have an exasperation or a flare of your asthma," said Dr. Wiens.

People with asthma are in the priority groups to receive initial doses of the shot, but they should not use the nasal spray vaccine because of an increased risk of wheezing after it.

11/2/2009  Related Story: H1N1 Vaccinations Given In Mayes County During Walk-In Clinic

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