As an asthma patient, you might be concerned about the effects of coronavirus. Although it has been said that having asthma is a risk factor for more serious symptoms of Covid-19, research indicates that patients with asthma are actually not at greater risk of contracting the virus.
Experts tell us that asthma patients need to be aware of the virus, as viral infections are a major driver of flares. People with severe to uncontrolled asthma who contract coronavirus are likely to develop severe symptoms. Here is what you need to know to reduce your health risks with asthma and how to stay safe.
Covid-19 may trigger asthma symptoms and asthma attacks
The coronavirus outbreak can lead to serious health problems in people with chronic respiratory diseases such as cystic fibrosis, COPD and asthma as well as people with lung tissue damage from smoking like emphysema.
Asthma is one of the most common lifelong respiratory diseases among children and adults that causes the airway to narrow. This chronic illness is a major health concern as it affects over 330 million people globally. It is estimated that about 1 in 5 Australians, including children, live with asthma. Australia is one of the 5 countries with the highest prevalence rate of clinical asthma with 21.5%.
Some of the most common symptoms of chronic asthma include shortness of breath, wheezing, feelings of tightness around the chest, and coughing. Most of these symptoms are aggravated by specific asthma triggers, like the cold and flu, so it makes sense that coronavirus might also be a trigger. The immune system reacts to the trigger and leads to the excessive inflammation that causes the airway to narrow. So, if you have asthma, you must avoid possible triggers as they worsen the symptoms substantially.
Are you at risk of Covid-19 if you have asthma?
Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives around the world and the virus raises a lot of concerns and questions from asthma patients. They are wondering what risks they face amid the global pandemic. We will try to provide you answers to some of the common questions that are around there on any possible relationship between asthma and COVID-19.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, a lot of people living with asthma have been anxious about the trend of events. There is still a lot we don’t know about Covid-19 and how it affects asthma sufferers.
Based on the data that is available so far, asthma does not appear to increase the risk of contracting Covid-19. What if you do contract the virus? So far, the data suggests that asthma is not at higher risk for hospilisation. However, asthma presents itself in many different ways: mild, moderate or severe, controlled and uncontrolled. Those with mild asthma are at some risk for severe complications but the highest risk is for those who have severe or uncontrolled asthma.
It is crucial to understand what kind of asthma you have. With asthma compromising your lung function, it is best to prevent contracting Covid-19 to avoid any risks. You should ensure that you carry out all safe practices such as social distancing and washing your hands regularly that are required to prevent getting infected. Make sure to assess your symptoms and ensure you have medical supplies.
If you are concerned that your symptoms are different, not improving with your usual asthma medication or if you think you may have contracted coronavirus, you should consult your doctor for possible testing or change of treatment.
How Can You Protect Yourself From Coronavirus?
The goal for asthma sufferers is to be able to control their symptoms as much as possible. This is what the experts suggest to keep yourself safe and healthy:
· Ensure asthma control
If you have been diagnosed with asthma, you probably already have an action control plan in place. If you find that your present treatment plan is not working well enough, or if you don’t have an action plan, make sure to see your GP or asthma specialist to get you back on track. They are likely to have specific recommendations if you experience new symptoms or what to do if you have a flare-up.
If you are on preventer and controller medications, it is very important to continue taking them regularly to get the optimal results. Stopping preventer or controller medications can increase the risk of getting an asthma attack.
An asthma bag can be a handy asset for your child to keep essential medication, action plan, log book and devices such as spacer in one place, ready when it is needed. Ideal for at school, at the grandparents etc.
- Don’t panic-buy medication
There are currently restrictions in place at pharmacies to prevent people from stockpiling to ensure pharmacies do not run out of asthma medication. Pharmacies have plenty of stock of medication, such as Ventolin or salbutamol, for those who have asthma
· Staying healthy helps minimize the risk
Just like others, it is vital that engage in preventive practices to avoid coronavirus. Eating a diet rich in vitamins and minerals is key to a healthy immune system. At the same time, exercise can improve your breathing ability and respiratory capacity. The good thing is that a lot of exercises like cardio, yoga, stretching can be done wherever you are. Additionally, exercise decreases inflammation in the body. Why not invest in a yoga mat and some dumbbells to start your healthy exercise journey. Another helpful piece of exercise equipment is the pedal exerciser that will help you get fitter in no time.
Needless to say that in all this, you should ensure to keep practicing social distancing, hand-washing, and good hygiene practices.
While there might be some misconception on the higher risks of infection in people living with asthma, current studies show that there is no increased risk of infection for asthma patients.
Although the experts are waiting for more evidence to establish the risk assessments between asthma and Covid-19, we cannot rule out that the virus can lead to severe complications for those people with a chronic respiratory condition.
It is advisable to take the necessary precautions and ensure that the symptoms of asthma are managed at an early stage to avoid the risk of being infected by coronavirus.