MILWAUKEE, Apr 28, 2009 (UPI via COMTEX) — Those who have asthma or other respiratory conditions should be aware they are at higher risk from swine flu, U.S. asthma specialists advise.

“As with other influenza viruses, this virus typically attacks the respiratory tract. So if you have a chronic respiratory condition like asthma, it can take a turn for the worse, exacerbating your asthma,” Dr. Thomas B. Casale, executive vice president of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, said in a statement.

“Any individual exhibiting signs of swine flu should call his or her physician to discuss those symptoms. A doctor is best prepared to advise whether or not an in-person visit should be made.”

People with asthma or other chronic lung conditions are at a higher risk for developing complications from influenza, so it is important to be attentive to the presence of symptoms but not to panic, Casale said.

Catching the symptoms early is key because the antiviral drugs used to combat swine flu are most effective if started as soon as possible, and might not work if administered more than 48 hours after becoming ill, Casale advised.