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This information was reviewed and approved by Ronina A. Covar, MD (6/1/2017).

The cold and flu season can be hard for children with asthma. An upper respiratory infection, even a common cold, can make asthma worse.

This period often happens from the fall through the spring. The increased asthma symptoms in the fall are often called the September epidemic.

Viruses are the most common causes of upper respiratory infections. Antibiotics do not affect the virus or the associated inflammation. They are not usually indicated unless a bacterial infection develops. There may be atypical bacteria associated with asthma, which need special antibiotics.


Actions You Can Take against Asthma and Infections

  • Good hand-washing has been shown to be the most effective way to prevent the spread of common cold viruses. This can help even with close contacts in the home, school and day care center. Alcohol based gels are also effective.

  • Nasal wash — A saltwater or nasal saline wash helps remove mucus and bacteria from the nose and sinuses. When done during a upper respiratory infections, this can also decrease postnasal drip.

  • Influenza and other flu-like illnesses increase and prolong asthma symptoms. Your child’s doctor may recommend a yearly influenza “flu” vaccination.

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