How the Flu Impacts Chronic Conditions

Chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma can be hard to manage on their own, let alone alongside the symptoms of the seasonal flu. If you suffer from a chronic condition, you can make the flu season easier by getting a flu shot, practicing good hygiene and understanding the risks.

Chronic conditions can include long-term health complications such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Although the flu may be mild for healthy people, it can become dangerous or even deadly for those who are already dealing with health complications.

Here are some of the ways the flu can affect chronic conditions:

  • Heart disease — The virus makes the heart work harder, which has the potential to cause a heart attack. Without proper medical care, these problems can become life-threatening.
  • Asthma — The flu affects those with already sensitive airways and lungs by increasing inflammation. This leads to an increased risk of worsening asthma symptoms, asthma attacks or pneumonia.
  • COPD — Those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease face COPD exacerbation or the worsening of this condition along with shortness of breath.
  • Diabetes — Having the flu can affect your blood sugar levels and keep those with diabetes from eating well. Those who have diabetes can experience ketoacidosis, which is when acidic substances called ketones develop in the body and raise to dangerous levels. Diabetic people can also experience Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic State, which is when the body has excess sugar and tries to get rid of it. If left untreated, it can lead to severe dehydration.

Every year, the flu is responsible for thousands of deaths. No matter how well-managed a condition is, the flu can be responsible for an otherwise unnecessary hospitalization. Taking preventive measures to ensure optimal health this season can be as easy as getting a flu shot.

If you’re a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or Blue Care Network member, visit a participating pharmacy with your member ID card to get your flu shot today. While most pharmacies will accept your coverage, be sure to ask before you get your vaccine. Then, write down the date and let your doctor know at your next appointment so he or she can keep your immunization chart up to date.

You can also schedule an appointment with your primary doctor to get one. Your office visit copayment may apply.

For Blue Cross members without Blue Cross pharmacy coverage: Visit to see a list of immunizing pharmacies that provide vaccines under your medical coverage.

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