Arthritis and The Flu: How to Handle Influenza and Rheumatic Disease – by Ashley Boynes-Shuck



This has been one of the most dangerous and widespread flu seasons in years, and it is important for everyone to take proper precautions in preventing the flu.

One option is gettinga flu vaccine. While the flu shot is controversial to some, it has been shown to reduce the occurence of certain strains of the flu. Some rheumatologists will tell patients to always get the flu shots; others will warn people with rheumatic or autoimmune illness, or those who are already ill or taking certain medications, to stay away. Always consider your own doctor’s advice, and, use your own best judgment with what works best for you.

There are some natural ways to prevent the flu, too, from juicing fresh fruits and vegetables to built up immunity and regulate pH, to apple cider vinegar with honey and other “home remedies.”

Perhaps the best pieces of advice for preventing the flu, though, are the simplest: wash your hands frequently, avoid touching or bodily contact with strangers or infected persons, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and, use common sense: if you are sick, STAY HOME! It is inconsiderate to go to work or go out in public when you are contagious, especially as the flu can be dangerous for children, the elderly, and/or immune-compromised people.

The government’s Center for Disease Control has a lot of information on the flu and various forms of the influenza virus at flu.gov.

Here are some tips that the CDC has posted specifically relating to the flu and arthritis:


How does arthritis affect how I respond to the flu?

  • People with certain types of arthritis, called inflammatory rheumatic  disease or autoimmune rheumatic disease, have a higher risk of getting  respiratory infections as well as flu-related complications, such as pneumonia.
  • Inflammatory arthritis affects the immune system which controls  how well your body fights off infections. Also, many medications given to treat  inflammatory arthritis can weaken the immune system. People with weakened  immune systems are at high risk for getting more severe illness and  complications such as pneumonia or hospitalization with the flu. Rheumatoid  arthritis and lupus are the most common types of inflammatory arthritis.
  • Older adults with osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis,  are likely not at increased risk of complications from the flu unless they also  have other high-risk conditions for flu such as asthma, diabetes, heart  disease, or cancer.
  • The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated every year.

Persons who have the  following types of inflammatory arthritis or rheumatic disease or take certain  medications may be  at high risk for influenza and its complications. You should discuss your risk  for complications from the flu with your healthcare provider.


Stay warm, stay safe, and stay healthy!

Here’s wishing you a flu-free flu season!


Stay Well,

Ashley Boynes-Shuck


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