Media Releases

Cold and flu season puts Australians with asthma at increased risk

26 Apr 2018

With Australia’s worst flu outbreak on record last year, this World Asthma Day (May 1) National Asthma Council Australia experts are urging people with asthma to not let colds and the flu inflame their symptoms this winter.

National Asthma Council Australia Chair Dr Jonathan Burdon AM warned that winter flu puts people with asthma at high risk of a flare-up turning into something more serious.

“Getting the flu can enhance the already problematic symptoms of asthma including wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and tightness in the chest. If not treated properly, these symptoms can cause complications and even hospitalisation.

“People with obstructive airways disease, including asthma and COPD, also have a higher risk of invasive pneumococcal disease.”

Around 40,000 Australians are hospitalised and 400 die each year from asthma, with a spike in hospital admissions during winter for people of all ages – from preschoolers through to the elderly.

On World Asthma Day Dr Burdon’s advice to Australians with asthma is to take a pro-active approach to preventing and managing asthma before temperatures drop, including an asthma check-up at the doctor.

“The best way for people with asthma to stay safe this winter is to take your asthma treatment as recommended by your asthma doctor.

“By following your asthma action plan and taking your asthma medicines, as prescribed, your airways will be less inflamed and sensitive, thereby helping resist the effects of the flu.

“Getting the flu vaccine remains very important, as it reduces the risk of influenza.”

Dr Burdon advised extra care for people with asthma who are over 65 as colds and flu can hit hardest in seniors.

Flu season in Australia is usually June to September with a peak in August.

Following the National Asthma Council Australia’s winter asthma checklist will help ensure your lungs are in the best possible shape for winter. 

Winter asthma check list

  • Get your lungs checked — see your doctor for an asthma check-up before the cold and flu season sets in.
  • Follow your asthma action plan — together with your doctor, develop or update your personal written asthma action plan to help manage your asthma over winter.
  • Keep warm and dry, if cold air triggers your asthma. Look up weather forecasts before you go out.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick and control germs by washing your hands regularly.
  •  If you haven’t already had a flu vaccination, ask your doctor about it.
  • Use your medicines wisely — tell your doctor if you have been using your reliever puffer more than two days a week or are having asthma symptoms at night. These are important signs that your lungs may not be in the best condition for winter colds and flu. If you have been prescribed a preventer medicine, make sure you use it - even if you feel well.
  • Check with your pharmacist or nurse that you are using your puffer or inhaler device correctly or view the National Asthma Council “how-to” videos online.

Under Australia’s National Immunisation Program the flu vaccine is free for all people aged six months or older with certain medical conditions that can lead to complications from influenza, including severe asthma. It is also free for those aged 65 years and over.

Information and tools to help manage your asthma in winter, including “how-to” videos on correct inhaler technique, are available at the National Asthma Council Australia website:




For further information, or to arrange an interview with a National Asthma Council Australia spokesperson, please contact:

Lelde McCoy, the Reputation Group

Mob: 0417 362 768 

Email: [email protected]