It’s flu season, and everyone is on the lookout for germs they’re hoping to avoid. Most people recover from the flu in about a week. However, influenza may be associated with serious complications such as pneumonia, especially in those with neuromuscular disorders and other chronic health conditions.
Tips to prevent the flu:
Protect yourself by washing hands thoroughly with soap and water, using hand sanitizer, and keeping common areas and shared items clean and disinfected. Try to avoid contact with people who have colds or the flu. One of the best ways to prevent the flu is to get the flu shot. Check with your doctor before obtaining any vaccine, especially if you’re affected by myasthenia gravis, polymyositis, dermatomyositis, or taking immune-suppressing medications such as corticosteroids (e.g. prednisone, deflazacort, prednisolone).
Symptoms of seasonal influenza may include the following:
- sore throat
- body aches
- diarrhea and vomiting also may be experienced
Contact your physician as soon as possible if you develop flu-like symptoms.
Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s A guide to neuromuscular disorders contains information about common respiratory illnesses that can stem from the flu (see page 70).
Bronchitis is an inflammation and irritation of the bronchial tubes in the lungs characterized by a cough. Viruses, bacteria, environmental irritants such as cigarette smoke, or allergies may cause this condition. In response to the inflammation, airways secrete a sticky mucous. If a person is unable to produce an effective cough to clear the lungs, there is a risk for developing pneumonia. If you do get a fever with thick discolored, or bloody mucus coughed from the chest, or if you notice that the mucus has changed from clear white to yellowish, tell your doctor immediately. These could be symptoms of a respiratory infection that could lead to pneumonia.
Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria or viruses, and may be a complication of a cold, flu, bronchitis, or aspiration. Pneumonia causes the very small air sacs in the lungs (alveoli) and surrounding tissues to fill with inflammatory cells (pus) and mucous which prevents the normal exchange of O2 and CO2.
For more information:
Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Flu Season Resource Centre
Get informed and stay healthy this season!