Why the flu can be deadly for certain kids

The cold and flu season is no fun for anyone. But for certain kids, it can be downright dangerous if not deadly.

It was on the soccer field that Kyle Walsh and his mom first realized something was wrong.

Kyle says "It feels like you're getting left behind and like you're worse than other kids."

His mom Connie remembers seeing her son suffer on the field. "His face is red and he's got his hands over his head and I'm looking at other parents like, what's wrong with him?"

It turns out Kyle has asthma, and like millions of others, he quickly learned that running during soccer isn't the only risk for him.

Experts say this is the most dangerous time of year for kids with asthma. Fall means more allergens, more time around other kids, and more threats from the cold and flu.

Dr. Beth Allen, an a sthma specialist with Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio says, "Actually, colds are the number one thing that land kids in the hospital, is that they'll come down with a cold, they'll start having some cough on day 2 and by day 3 they're in trouble."

She says kids with asthma already have an immune system that's dealing with one disease, so an assault from a second can be dangerous.

Dr. Allen says, "30 percent of the kids who end up in the hospital with flu have asthma. So, they're clearly at increased risk, if they get flu, to get quite ill, not only with their asthma, but also pneumonia."

To help protect kids with asthma, doctors suggest three steps.

First, get them a flu shot. This will give your child a head start on battling the flu before they're exposed to it.

Take your kid in for a fall check up to get a good reading on their condition. And work with your doctor to come up with a written action plan.

Dr. Allen says, "They need to be able to recognize the symptoms, know which medicines to use if they develop, and also know when to call the doctor if that medicine is failing."

With a cold or flu, asthma can get serious quickly. But preparing for problems before they happen can help kids stay healthy, and parents breathe easier.

If your kid has asthma, doctors suggest keeping a close eye on them this fall. Most kids with asthma will wheeze during an attack, but some will only cough. In those cases, the severity of their asthma can easily be overlooked.
 

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