Media Releases

Australians with asthma urged to check in with GPs as flu season hits

10 Jun 2021

With icy blasts sweeping across much of Australia, the flu season is right behind and the National Asthma Council Australia is urging the 2.7 million Australians living with asthma to check in with their GP. 

The flu season in Australia is usually June to September with a peak in August and the National Asthma Council Australia’s Strategic Advisor Dr Lyn Roberts said the best way for people with asthma to stay safe this winter was to take control early as temperatures plummet. 

“A pro-active approach starts with an asthma check-up at the doctor and making sure to review your asthma action plan. 

“It is also important to take your asthma medicines as prescribed by your GP as this will help your airways to be less inflamed and sensitive, which helps to resist the effects of the flu. 

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

Dr Roberts said it was a great concern that winter flu could see an asthma flare-up turn into something more serious. 

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

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

“Colds and flus can hit hardest in seniors, so it is essential that respiratory conditions are well managed for those over 65 who have asthma and that means not letting these viruses inflame their symptoms this winter. 

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 pre-schoolers through to the elderly. 

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

  • 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. 
  • If cold air triggers your asthma, keep warm and dry. Check 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, chat to your doctor or local pharmacist, or check if your workplace offers a flu vaccination program. 
  • 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. 

“People with asthma don’t need to wait until they have the COVID-19 vaccine to get the flu vaccine. GPs can best advise asthma patients on the recommended interval between a dose of seasonal influenza vaccine and a dose of COVID-19 vaccine,” Dr Roberts said. 

Further information and tools to help manage your asthma in winter, including several new “how-to” videos on correct inhaler technique, are available at www.nationalasthma.org.au 

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

Donna Le Page, Le Page PR 

Mobile: 0429 825 703 

Email: donna@lepage-pr.com.au 

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