Flu season is here, and adults with certain chronic health conditions, like asthma, heart disease, and diabetes, are at higher risk of serious flu complications, including hospitalization or even death. In fact, during past flu seasons, 9 out of 10 adults hospitalized with flu had at least one underlying health condition. Flu also can make long-term health problems worse, even if they are well managed.
The good news is that annual flu vaccination can help prevent flu and its potentially serious outcomes. Here is more information about flu that may be helpful for people with certain chronic conditions.
Flu is more dangerous for people with heart disease or a past stroke
People with a history of heart disease or stroke are at higher risk from serious flu complications. Among adults hospitalized with flu during recent flu seasons, heart disease was one of the most common chronic conditions. In fact, about half of adults hospitalized with flu have heart disease. Studies have shown that flu illness is associated with an increase in heart attacks and stroke, and that flu vaccination can reduce the risk of some cardiac events in people with heart disease.
Asthma and flu are a bad combination
People with asthma also are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications, even if their asthma is mild or their symptoms are well-controlled by medication. People with asthma can develop swollen and sensitive airways, and flu can cause further inflammation of the airways and lungs. Flu infections can also trigger asthma attacks, make asthma symptoms worse, and lead to pneumonia and other acute respiratory diseases. Studies have shown flu vaccination is associated with reduced hospitalizations from a worsening of asthma.
What can happen when people with diabetes get the flu
People with diabetes also are at higher risk of developing serious complications from flu. In recent seasons, about 30% of adults hospitalized with flu had diabetes. Flu may raise your blood sugar levels, but sometimes people don’t feel like eating when they are sick, and a reduced appetite can cause blood sugar levels to fall. Studies have shown flu vaccination is associated with reduced hospitalizations due to a worsening of diabetes.
Get a flu shot today.
It is important that people with certain chronic conditions get a flu shot every year, and vaccination is recommended before the end of October, if possible, because flu activity can start increasing in parts of the country during this month, and it’s important to get vaccinated before flu starts spreading in your community. However, vaccination after October can still provide protection against flu during most seasons because flu most commonly peaks in February, and significant activity can continue into May.
Learn more about flu and chronic conditions and speak with your health care provider today to find out the best way to protect yourself against flu.