4 Debunked Myths about Living with Asthma During Cold and Flu

Cold and flu season are very challenging for the people who suffer from asthma as during these seasons getting rid of asthma attacks sometimes become a bit challenging. There are many myths and false claims among the people regarding what they should do and what not to do to treat asthma during cold and flu. In case you are able to manage your condition in cold and flu, then these seasons will not trouble you much. Surely Cold and flu season are a bit challenging for each and everyone but the situation is more stressed out for people dealing with asthma.

People having asthma visit the hospital regularly during this season and the chances of infection or influenza also increases greatly. Though common colds and flus are curable, but still people have a lot of misunderstandings about how their conditions and relate them with asthma. Some of the truth about four common myths that confuse the people regarding asthma and flu and is symptoms, cure etc in the season.

People with asthma shouldn’t get the flu shot

This is totally wrong; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only one-third of adults who have asthma get their yearly dosage of flu shot which clearly indicate that the remaining two-thirds of people with asthma are at risk for upper respiratory infections. By not taking a flu shot, people can have higher chances of an asthma attack and people tend to believe that shot will either give them the flu or will boost the factors triggering asthma. But flu shots are completely safe and taking them annually is important for everyone who has asthma. This is a myth is based which is based on the misunderstanding that the flu vaccine will cause asthma to flare up. However, there is no evidence which supports this claim, this is just a misconception among the people. IN case you have asthma, you need flu vaccine more as compared to an average person, because it is found that people who suffer from asthma and other chronic lung disease like emphysema have higher course with influenza that as compared to some person who has healthy lungs.

It is advised that people who have severe allergic reaction to the shot in the past, should not take the shots on their own and rather should seek doctor’s advice before taking them. Unless your doctor has advised you not to take asthma shot, everyone with asthma can get the flu shot without further delaying. People who have asthma, heart problems or people who are above 65 years of age are at a higher risk of facing worsen situations because their immune system is not that strong. Therefore they are advised not to miss their daily medicines, nor should miss their flu shot as well.

If you have well-managed asthma, a cold or the flu won’t cause issues

If you are able to manage your asthma with proper medication and other treatments, you will not face severe cold or flu symptoms as compared to one who has unmanageable asthma. Before our bodies know that we are exposed to a cold or flu, our immune system knows it well and start planning an attack as our body don’t want the virus to settle in the body. Some of the most common symptoms of cold and flu include watery eyes, runny nose, and regular coughing and sneezing as well, and they all are connected with the stage of the cold and flu which is known as inflammation. Inflammation simply means that our body tries to keep it from getting deeper into your lungs. Sometimes even in case your asthma is well-managed asthma, it can creates more inflammatory cells and can trigger even a person who has well-controlled asthma in the past.

Well Controlled asthma means that people are taking proper medicine and are not missing even a single dosage of their medicine as well. In case you are not taking medicines on time and your asthma is left untreated, it will result in major consequences and will bring changes in your airways, something called remodeling, which in turn will make you more prone to have severe consequences in the future.

Allergens are the most common cause of increased asthma symptoms

Asthma is a complex which results in breathing problem among the patients, and sometimes allergies are also the cause of increased asthma symptoms but it is not true in every case. Most of the people are taught to remove carpet, stuffed animals and other things from their homes as it might carry the allergens which in turn trigger asthma symptoms. But in reality, it’s not the allergens are the topmost reason which results in triggering asthma symptoms, in fact, cold and flu viruses are the main cause which results in triggering asthma among the people. Even if the people are able to manage allergies inside the home, there are still chances that cold and flu will trigger asthma symptoms in them. Even in children, cold and flu viruses trigger by almost 80 percent of asthma exacerbations and somehow if the parents are able to prevent their kids with allergies, they might come down with asthma exacerbation from cold and flu.

Children with asthma get more colds than kids without it

This is a myth that children who gave asthma get affected by cold as compared to kids who don’t have asthma. However, this is absolutely wrong and children with or without asthma experience the same number of colds per year. Children get affected with cold and flu at least six to eight times in a year but the situation gets more disturbed in case it hit children with asthma. Even in case the virus goes away, your child might face the symptoms of cold and flu-like coughing. We believe that cold weather makes our kids cold, but this is not true as cold and flu are caused due to viruses and not due to any season. You will not catch a cold from chilling winds and moist air will prove to be helpful especially in case you have trouble while breathing.

What is the Difference Between Asthma and Colds?

Asthma is linked with the inflammation of the lower airways which results in difficulty in breathing; whereas colds occur due to infection from a virus. Cold viruses mostly impact our nose and throat and these are the upper airways. Air reaches inside our body through nose and windpipe and then into our bronchial tubes, which go on to branch into smaller tubes. At the end of these tubes, we have small tiny air sacs which are known as alveoli that deliver oxygen and purify our blood by removing carbon dioxide which we breathe. While we breathe normally, the bands of muscle that surround the airways get relaxed allowing the air to move inside easily. While at the time of an asthma attack, the most common changes that occur inside our body and prevent the air from moving easily through the airways include:

  • The bands of muscle which is surrounding the airways get tighten which in turn makes the airways narrow.
  • Also, the lining of the airways becomes swollen or inflamed.
  • The cells that line the airways result in producing more mucus, which is much thicker as compared to normal ones.

All of these factors result in triggering the symptoms of asthma, which include difficulty while breathing, wheezing, regular coughing, shortness of breath and difficulty while performing activities as well.

Whereas colds are respiratory infections which are caused due to viruses and there are many types of viruses which results in cold symptoms. These viruses, in turn, affect airways, throat, voice box etc inside our body thus making it difficult for us to breathe properly.

You might have washed your hands properly and have taken daily dosage of vitamin C as well, still, you catch your office cubemate’s germs. Part of avoiding a cold or the flu is referred to as facts and it is the viruses that caused cold and flu and not the reason that you went outside in the cold. Most of the people have a certain set of cold and flu myths which they think play an important role in triggering asthma attack.

How to avoid asthma exacerbations at the time of cold and flu season?

Flu shot is the best defense to keep control of asthma. Besides, there are many other kinds of respiratory viruses that can prove to be problematic for people with asthma, but with proper medication and treatment, people can manage their asthma symptomatically and supportively. IN order to stay protected against colds and viruses, you need to take the following precautions which include:

  • You are advised to wash your hands often.
  • Try not to share your food and drinks, as well as objects that can harbor germs including your cellphones as well.
  • In case you have asthma, be sure that the nebulizers are cleaned and are working properly. You need to replace nebulizers every 6 months.

Asthma Is Easy to Control.

This totally depends upon how motivated you are towards sticking to your treatment plan and your goal should be to lower the chances of triggering asthma. Ideally, your symptoms will not continue for much longer period of time and eventually with time will reduce greatly. Obviously this will not happen on its own and for the same you need to develop really good asthma control which needs your hard work and continuous efforts as well. In a survey conducted on 200 patients with asthma, it was found that more than 75 percent of the patients don’t take their regular medicines and most people according to the survey don’t like the idea of a fixed-treatment schedule.

People With Asthma should Exercise regularly

Besides taking the medicines regularly, people with asthma should exercise daily as exercising daily means “less burden is placed on your lungs during activity,” and you can have a healthy body. By doing Physical exercise, you can maintain a healthy weight and also lower the risk of asthma risk or, in case you already have asthma, by exercising you can breathe much easier. According to an analysis, the chances of occurrence of asthma get increased by 50 percent in case people are overweight or obese. Researchers found that obese patients who have asthma have more than 50% chances of continuous symptoms as compared to people who are not heavy. Though the evidence supporting the study was not mentioned but according to it, a hormone which is produced by fat cells leads to airway inflammation. In case you have asthma, you can consult your doctor before starting with an exercising plan and should cover your mouth with a scarf, while exercising outside in the cold weather.

Tips while exercising

  • In case you are planning to go out and exercise when you are fighting off a cold, just make sure that you have wiped the area and washed your hands properly so that you can avoid infecting yourself and others as well. In case you are unable to follow your regular workout routine, listen to your body first as workout will not be possible in case you are not healthy physically and mentally as well. Just make it simple and limit your workout session indoor only.

For the millions of people living across the globe with asthma chronic inflammation of the airways which results in wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing thus making the situation more tense, there is happy news for all of them. With the help of safe and effective medicines, asthma can be controlled and managed, it’s just that people need to know the ways to cure their asthma. Along with following the above-mentioned precautions, it is important that you stay connected with your doctor and get an up-to-date asthma action plan from them. This is a plan which your doctor has prepared after monitoring your symptoms and they know which plan will work correctly for you, in case you experience an increase in symptoms.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/381699
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08998280.2003.11927933
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23522986

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