Aussie flu is just one of the strains of the influenza virus affecting thousands of people around the world this year.
The H3N2 strain was given the nickname ‘Aussie flu’ after it caused problems in Australia during its winter.
Symptoms are described as the same as normal flu but more severe, but experts say the illness should clear up by itself after a week or two.
While the symptoms, including a dry, chesty cough, sore throat, headache and nausea, are one thing to deal with, for those with asthma it could trigger an attack.
Asthma UK says colds and flu are very common triggers for people with asthma.
It explains: “Although experts have known for some time that colds and flu can raise your risk of having an asthma attack, the exact reason for the link hasn’t been well understood.
“The latest research we have suggests that when people with asthma get a cold or flu, there’s a rise in levels of an inflammatory protein in the cells that line the airways, which can lead to an asthma attack.”
While there is no guaranteed way to avoid catching a cold or flu, there some simple things you can do to reduce your risk.
The asthma charity lists three things you can do:
Wash your hands
Britons can reduce their risk of spreading and caching the flu by washing their hands often with warm water and soap.
Flu can be spread from an infected person sneezing or coughing onto a surface, which is then touched by someone else.
Further prevention methods include using tissues to trap germs when you cough and sneeze.
Look after yourself
Asthma UK says: “To support your immune system, eat a varied, balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, exercise regularly and make sure you’re getting enough sleep.”
Consider a flu jab
Dr Ben Coyle, medical director at the Now Healthcare Group, says the flu vaccine can act as protection.
“Yes the jab can help. It may not work in all instances because of the possibilities of the viruses mutating, but you definitely won’t be protected if you don’t have it.
“It’s still available so get it done!”
Your doctor or asthma nurse may also suggest you have the flu jab if:
- You take a preventer inhaler
- You take steroid tablets
- You’ve had to go to hospital because of an asthma attack
- You have another condition or risk factor that means a jab is advisable
Asthma UK also advises: “If you’ve been prescribed a preventer inhaler, take it every day, as prescribed. Ethel’s to control inflammation in your lungs, meaning you’re less likely to have an asthma attack even if you do come into contact with a trigger such as a cold or flu virus.
“There’s no cure for colds and flu, and there isn’t any benefit for your asthma in takin cold remedies if you’re affected. But some cold and flu medicines might make you feel better.
“If you want to take an over-the-counter medicine or a herbal supplement, speak to your GP, asthma nurse or pharmacist first, as some medicines and herbal treatments aren’t safe for people with asthma.
“If you think you have flu and you have any concerns, call your GP practice for advice.”