If you're an asthmatic, you've probably wondered why it is that when you get the flu, your symptoms are so bad. Well, a University of Southampton has the answer...
According to the study, which was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, people with asthma are likely to suffer worse symptoms when they get the flu because they have weaker immune systems. For more on this study, keep reading.
Southampton research finds that asthmatics are likely to have worse flu symptoms due to weaker immune systems
The study, led by Ben Nicholas of the University of Southampton under the NIHR Southampton Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit,, assessed lung samples from both asthmatics and healthy people. The researchers exposed these samples to influenza (the flu virus) and then analysed their reactions.
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To reach their findings, Nicholas and his team used a research method unlike other techniques, which separate and grow a single layer of cells in a dish. Instead, the team kept the whole sample intact. This allowed them to analyse a pinhead-sized piece of lung in the lab, just as it would be found in the body.
Nicholas reported their results: “We wanted to look into whether immune system
differences explain why asthmatics are more likely to end up in hospital if they get flu than the general population. This is important, as flu can cause a person’s asthma symptoms to get worse. The samples from healthy people showed a strong immune system
-triggering reaction to the flu virus. But in lung samples from asthma patients, this reaction was much weaker.”
Researchers hope their findings will help find new treatments for common lung infections that make asthma worse
Further research is necessary to determine whether the difference in immune responses is due to the daily medications that asthmatics used to manage their condition, or due to the asthma itself. That said, Nicholas is hopeful that his team’s findings are useful in finding new treatments for asthmatics.
“We hope these results help researchers better understand why asthmatics are more affected by influenza and help find new treatments for common lung infections, which often make asthma symptoms worse,” Nicholas concluded.
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