If you have a child with asthma, this is likely the time of year that you brace yourself for the onslaught of respiratory illnesses, which are inevitable during the cooler months. This year, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the impending Influenza season, parents have more reasons to worry than ever before.
There has been a lot of discussion about the upcoming flu season coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic. Did you know that Australia and South America, who experience their flu season several months before we do in the U.S., have reported NO influenza cases in 2020? This believed to be largely due to lockdowns, social distancing and travel bans implemented to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the spring and early summer. Since June, the U.S. has loosened many of those restrictions and as a result, we have even seen an increase in COVID-19 cases. This could mean we won’t likely have the same experience this flu season.
Pediatric asthma as a risk factor
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that children with chronic lung diseases, including asthma, are at higher risk for severe infection with Influenza virus and likely could require hospitalization. The same is believed to be true about COVID-19 infections in children with asthma, though the limited data available does not illustrate that. This may in part, be due to the fact that children with chronic lung diseases and asthma are being more cautious to avoid infection and therefore are not getting sick in large proportions.
Did you know that COVID-19 and Influenza have many similarities? Both viruses are spread primarily by respiratory droplets and share symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, nausea/vomiting, body aches, decreased appetite, body aches, headaches and shortness of breath. This will undoubtedly make it very difficult to tell one virus from the other.
And to make this even more confusing, studies have shown that COVID-19 and flu infections can infect an individual simultaneously!
|COMPARISON OF COVID-19 and Influenza|
|Spread mostly by respiratory droplets||Spread mostly by respiratory droplets|
|Symptoms: cough, wheeze, fever, sore throat, nausea, body aches||Symptoms: cough, wheeze, fever, sore throat, nausea, body aches|
|No vaccine available||Vaccine available—and safe!|
So what can you do to help your asthmatic child this year, especially if they are heading back to school for in-person learning?
Your goal should be to optimize asthma control:
* Children with egg allergies can receive any licensed, recommended vaccine that is age appropriate.
Please contact your child’s doctor if you need to schedule a flu shot or if you need an updated Asthma Action Plan.