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H1N1 - What Asthma and COPD Sufferers Need to Know

By HERWriter
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People who suffer from asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) are at higher risk of severe H1N1 symptoms or complications. This is because, unlike the normal flu which usually stays in the upper respiratory tract, the H1N1 flu has been shown to affect the entire respiratory system. It infects the breathing tubes in the nose, throat and lungs. Those with asthma and COPD and other lung-related issues (cystic fibrosis, emphysema) are among those on the high priority lists for H1N1 vaccination clinics because of this reason.

If you are one of those patients with a respiratory disease - particularly asthma or COPD - you need to be extra vigilant about your health in the upcoming months.

H1N1 Flu Symptoms

To review, H1N1 flu symptoms are very similar to regular flu symptoms, but are usually quick in onset and more severe.

- fever (above 103 that lasts for three or four days)
- cough
- sore throat
- body aches
- runny nose
- headache
- chills (moderate to severe)
- loss of appetite
- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (not associated with regular flu)
- fatigue (moderate to severe)

What You Need to Do

Beyond getting the H1N1 vaccination, if you have asthma or COPD, your focus needs to be on prevention.

  • Make sure you and everyone around you washes their hands or uses an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
  • Avoid contact with sick people and if you are around them, make sure that they know to not touch their nose, mouth, and eyes and then touch other surfaces that you will touch; Have them sneeze into their sleeve to prevent saliva and other fluids from spreading germs.
  • Disinfect commonly touched surfaces - counter tops, faucets (taps), toys, keyboards, doorknobs, handles (coffee pot, refrigerator, microwave), telephones, desks and tabletops.
  • Keep yourself healthy - get enough sleep, eat healthy food and exercise
  • Take your preventative medications. Some asthmatics and COPD sufferers forget or don't take them regularly as prescribed.
  • Have an extra supply of medications on hand.
  • Add a Comment2 Comments


    That is a good way too. You can also order medications online. I'm not sure it's available that much in Canada, but I know it is in the U.S.

    The main thing is don't panic. Just be sensible and do what you need to.

    November 3, 2009 - 7:16pm
    HERWriter Guide

    Hi Darlene - Thanks for this comprehensive list of tips and suggestions for those with asthma and COPD. I'd like to add one more suggestion. I've been using the drive-through window at my pharmacy, instead of going inside and standing in line, in order to reduce my risk of exposure to others. I'm being as vigilant as I can, and this just seemed like another step that would be helpful. Thanks again for this very helpful information!
    Take good care,

    November 3, 2009 - 6:38pm
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    We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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