According to the World Health Organization, dealing with asthma is a reality of up to 339 million people worldwide. Additionally, it is the most non-contagious disease among children internationally.
If you have asthma, breathlessness, wheezing, and coughing are all common symptoms that one has to deal with regularly.
With this in mind and given the respiratory nature of the condition, those who have asthma are becoming concerned with the possible dangers during the current pandemic.
This is exacerbated by the fact that the situation does not seem to be coming to an end soon and growing concerns of a vaccine taking longer than expected.
Why are COVID-19 symptoms something asthma sufferers should be familiar with? How should you deal with asthma during this pandemic?
We will break down all you need to know in order for you to feel confident during these trying times.
Why Asthma Sufferers Are Concerned About COVID
As the coronavirus develops, doctors have noticed that not everyone will suffer from the same symptoms making the initial stages difficult for some to identify. This is one of the main reasons that this virus has been so hard to control and stop.
That being said, three main symptoms are reasonably constant in all those who become infected. They are:
- Dry Cough
If things were to escalate, then the more serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain, or pressure may be apparent. This may require you to be hospitalized for observation.
The reason for this is because the virus’s main function is to infect your respiratory tract. This can lead to damage of the lining in your lungs as well as the alveoli, the tiny air sacs that are the workhorses of your respiratory system.
Given the nature of how the disease develops in the lungs, it is understandable that those with asthma are concerned about what would happen should they come into contact with an infected person and get COVID-19.
But the question is, should you be?
We will now consider the latest information about COVID-19 for those with asthma and see what we can learn.
Should People With Asthma Worry About Covid?
To put it simply, there is a possibility of being at a higher risk of developing more serious symptoms for those with asthma. This is the reason that government directives have included people living with asthma on the list.
But does this mean that those with asthma need to be majorly concerned? The answer is no.
Why is that?
One reason is that studies have shown that those with asthma are not among those who have been severely compromised by escalations when infected. Medical journal The Lancet explains in a commentary that ‘…it is striking that both diseases (asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) appear to be under-represented in the comorbidities reported for patients with COVID-19.
Comorbidities are underlying health conditions that greatly complicate recovery from COVID-19. These can include diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and high cholesterol, but the list does not include asthma.
Why this is the case is up for debate.
Science Daily reports that some of the reasons could be greater vigilance to take the necessary precautions, the effects of the medication used by those with asthma, or the younger age demographic of people living with asthma.
Taking this into account, it is clear that those with asthma do not need to be overly concerned that having asthma is a guarantee that you will suffer greatly should you get COVID.
In fact, many who have asthma and have already had COVID have experienced either mild symptoms or even been asymptomatic.
Even if this is the case, it is agreed upon by all in the medical field that those with asthma should be extra vigilant with their self-care during this time.
So what measures should you be sure to incorporate into your routine if you have asthma?
How to Deal With Asthma in Light of the Pandemic
Before going through the steps you can take during the pandemic, one thing is universally agreed upon by medical professionals.
Now is not the time to stop, change, or adapt the medication you are currently taking to manage your asthma.
There has been some discussion in the medical field about the dangers for takers of Inhaled corticosteroids. This is the main anti-inflammatory tool used to treat asthma and COVID.
Studies, however, have proved inconclusive, and as one report mentions, the findings are in”…..contrast with the very real harm patients requiring ICS therapy for their asthma or COPD might be at risk if they stop treatment because of unfounded concerns related to their effects in COVID-19.”
It is important to note that if one were to experience acute respiratory exacerbation due to not taking their daily controller medication, this would mean a likely visit to the emergency room. Once there, people with asthma would find themselves in a place with a high level of exposure to COVID.
For this reason, taking the medication regularly is the best action that can be taken right now to prevent exposure.
This being said, if you do experience serious asthma symptoms, it is not wise to avoid calling the emergency services, especially if you have symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness.
Hospitals have rigorous procedures in place to keep those who are infected away from the general public. Be assured that upon having a serious attack, you will receive the best treatment at the hospital.
A Quick Word on Nebulizers
One quick noteworthy development in care for asthma suffers is the use of nebulizers. Due to the aerosol nature of a nebulizer, it has been highlighted that transition of COVID could be increased should someone who has been infected use one.
In addition, the use of one could stimulate coughing in the patient and those present in the room. Therefore, if you are to use one at home, it is advised to do so in a room alone.
Take All Necessary Precautions To Prevent Infection
The old saying goes, “Prevention is better than a cure,” and in the case of people trying to manage asthma, taking extra care to follow good practices is necessary.
These include regular hand washing (for at least 20 seconds with soap), avoiding touching your face, and using a face mask. A combination of these measures and social distancing is the best solution to slowing the spread of COVID.
These measures are so effective because close contact seems to be the main way the virus is transmitted.
Washing your hands with soap and water is effective because the coronavirus leaves an oily surface membrane on our skin, which can be killed by soap. As we touch so many surfaces that contain pathogens, not just our mouth but also our noses and eyes are potential entrance points for the virus hence the need to resist this habit.
There has been some concern among people with asthma about the use of face masks. This is down to reports of face masks reducing oxygen intake or causing a build-up of carbon dioxide, but this is not true, even for severe sufferers.
Coronavirus can travel via large and small water particles projected through sneezing, coughing, and even breathing. For that reason, it is understandable why we are all encouraged to wear face masks.
Some suggestions for those that feel discomfort in wearing a mask would be to try different types, as some are more comfortable than others. Even putting one at home to get accustomed to the feel may prove useful.
Pay Extra Attention to Avoid Triggers
Another key aspect to be conscious of is paying attention to any of the triggers that are common for you personally. This can range in asthma sufferers from dust mites and pets to tobacco smoke and pollution.
Due to the virus, we are all spending far more time at home, so it is particularly important to pay attention to those triggers you can find in your home environment.
Getting someone other than the person living with asthma to dust frequently and vacuum using a HEPA filter would be good if possible.
As many disinfectants can also trigger asthma attacks, those cleaning should be extra vigilant to ensure that they use as few products as possible. Use ones that are known to have hydrogen peroxide (no stronger than 3%) or ethanol (ethyl alcohol) as well as products that do not contain peroxyacetic acid or peracetic acid.
It would be best to be even more cautious about having pets in your room during this time. Additionally, your home should be as trigger-free as possible, so it is imperative to try to maintain a dust-free environment in the home.
Be Extra Familiar With Your Asthma Action Plan
Most asthma sufferers will have an action plan detailing medication, and the next steps should an attack happen. While this is the case having one and making the best use of it are two different things.
Firstly, keeping it in a visible place will help you to easily refer to the information. It may also be wise to keep a digital copy as well.
Checking it regularly would also be wise during these days as it will remind you to take your medicine and your course of action should your symptoms worsen.
Keep Stress To a Minimum
During these days, it has become increasingly easy to develop stress and anxiety. Whether it be for economic reasons, lack of contact with family or friends, or just not knowing when things will return to normal, stress levels for many are running high.
The biggest problem is that at the worst of times, stress can trigger an asthma attack. Therefore to avoid an untimely attack, it is vital to keep stress at bay.
Getting out into the fresh air, eating healthy, and getting regular exercise are all things that should be increased rather than forgotten in the current setting.
One way of alleviating stress is to cut back on how much we watch the news. On the effects of too much news exposure, one study in China found out the following:
“The results showed use of new media, rather than traditional media, was significantly associated with more negative affect, depression, anxiety, and stress. Viewing stressful content (i.e., severity of the outbreak, reports from hospital) was associated with more negative affect and depression. Media engagement was also associated with more negative affect, anxiety, and stress.”
Taking this into account, being conscious of your exposure to the media coverage of the pandemic would be a wise course of action also.
Your Child and COVID-19
The return to school is upon us, which traditionally brings an interchange of various diseases and illnesses, usually consisting of the flu, chickenpox, and the common cold.
This time, however, we have an unwelcome addition to the mix.
Understandably, therefore, many parents are concerned about the risk posed to their children. But this is, even more, the case for parents whose children have asthma.
As mentioned earlier, asthma among young ones is quite common. But sufferers of childhood asthma should take heart from the fact that in general, few children tend to be coming down with COVID. Additionally, children with asthma are not infected at a higher rate than those without.
The same advice also applies to children regarding medicine use and taking precautionary measures. Therefore as long as these are being followed, then there is no additional reason to be concerned.
Prudent but Calm
As we are all trying to manage the current circumstances, but if how to deal with asthma and COVID-19 concerns you, then the answer you can see now is prudence.
Having asthma is not a guarantee that you will be in immediate danger.
By making sure that you are looking after yourself, taking all the necessary safety measures, and continue taking your medication, you should be able to protect not only yourself but others too.
Making sure that you have enough of your medication, another key factor during these days. Be sure to check out our store to keep your stocks up.
Asthma – who.int
Your lungs are really amazing. An anatomy professor explains why – theconversation.com
Do chronic respiratory diseases or their treatment affect the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection? – thelancelet.com
Asthma does not seem to increase the severity of COVID-19, research team finds – sciencedaily.com
Inhaled corticosteroids and COVID-19-related mortality: confounding or clarifying? – thelancet.com