H1N1 hard on asthmatics | NevadaAppeal.com

H1N1 hard on asthmatics

Pam Graber
For the Nevada Appeal

Editor’s Note: This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages throughout the flu season. Readers interested in knowing more about this topic are urged to visit http://www.flu.gov or http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu.

Q: How is H1N1 worse if you have asthma?

A: Although asthma affects 7.9 percent of the U.S. population, 32 percent of the people hospitalized for the 2009 H1N1 flu have asthma. This is good reason for people with asthma to have their asthma well-controlled, and they should have a current asthma action plan.

Medication to control the asthma (usually inhaled corticosteroids) should be used as prescribed. In addition, people with asthma should protect themselves with an H1N1 flu shot (inactivated injection only). Asthma precludes people from having the live, attenuated vaccine, otherwise known as the nasal spray.

Less than half of the people with asthma seek treatment promptly when they have flu-like illness.

However, because they are at higher risk of serious flu-related complications, it is important for these people, when experiencing influenza-like illness or an asthma exacerbation, to check in with their physician right away. That way, she or he can decide what, if any, measures need to be taken.

The 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic makes it even more important for people with asthma to have a current asthma action plan, also known as a management plan. It is a written plan the patient develops with the doctor to help control their asthma. It describes daily treatment and emergency treatment. It explains when to call the doctor and when to go to the emergency room.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitors H1N1-related hospitalizations, including among people with asthma, through the Emerging Infections Program (EIP).

The EIP influenza project conducts surveillance of laboratory-confirmed flu-related hospitalizations in children and adults in 62 counties covering 13 metropolitan areas of 10 states. They review hospital laboratory records, admission databases and infection control logs for people with documented laboratory-confirmed flu tests. EIP estimated hospitalization rates are reported every week during the flu season.


There is no charge for H1N1 vaccinations

Where: Carson City Health and Human, 900 East Long St., Carson City, Nevada

WHEN: 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m. every Thursday (closed for lunch)

• Pam Graber is the public information officer of Carson City Health and Human Services.