Asthma is a chronic condition that affects the airways making air passage in and out of the lungs difficult. Asthma could be hereditary or triggered by allergens in the environment. Classic symptoms of asthma include: wheezing, shortness of breath and cough.
Asthma does not increase a person’s risk of contracting the virus but on the other hand, it increases the risk of having serious consequences that could arise from the viral infection.
An asthma patient has their lung function reduced by up to 10%. COVID-19 on its part causes lung function to drop even further which makes it more life threatening to the asthmatic.
The coronavirus can affect anyone but the acute respiratory syndrome and chronic bronchitis that comes with the dreaded COVID-19 disease are more pronounced in asthma patients and people with underlying problems that involve the lungs.
However, a study published by the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology have made it clear that patients on a certain type of corticosteroids (glucocorticoids) have an increased susceptibility to the COVID-19 as a result of the immuno-suppressive effects of steroids and co-morbidities of their disease condition. Read more about the study here (link: https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/105/5/dgaa148/5814115)
Asthma patients can still reduce their risk of contracting the infection and developing serious COVID-19 complications. Health experts working on the COVID-19 have rolled out lots of safety advice for asthma patients which are centered around the points summarised below:
Continue with your maintenance or preventive asthma inhaler daily as prescribed. This is necessary to reduce your chance of developing asthma attack caused by any respiratory virus, including the coronavirus.
Always have your asthma medications on hand
Finally manage your stress. Anxiety can induce asthma attacks or make them worse; stress can also inhibit your immune system. Know when to rest, identify your stressors
On the part of the health professionals, the world governing body on asthma, Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) has advised that they do the following:
Ensure every asthma patient has a written asthma action plan.
Health professionals should avoid spirometry in patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. Spirometry is the most common of the lung function tests used for asthma, it involves taking a deep breath and exhaling into a hose attached to a device called a spirometer.
Professionals should use personal protective equipment (PPE) and adhere to all safety strategies.
Finally, asthma patients should be vigilant about any respiratory symptoms they experience such as a new or worsening cough, a fever, long-lasting fatigue and also, shortness of breath. It is important that they do not hesitate to reach out to a health care provider at the early onset of symptoms.
courtesy: Pharmacist Ginikachi Kate