COVID-19: Advice for those with Asthma
If you have asthma, you are among those considered to be at a higher risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is important to note that being in the ‘high-risk’ category does not mean you are more likely to catch the virus; instead, it means that you are at higher risk of serious illness if you do contract it.
It is therefore vital for asthmatics to take the necessary precautions to keep themselves safe during this time.
A respiratory infection, such as COVID-19, can cause a flare in the symptoms of asthma. Therefore people should take the following steps to remain asymptomatic:
- Keep taking your preventer inhaler daily as prescribed. Make sure to have your reliever inhaler (usually blue) with you at all times.
- Ensure you are using your inhaler correctly and getting the full impact from your medication.
- Have an up-to-date Asthma Action Plan. An action plan will help you to recognise when your asthma may be deteriorating as well as provide you with the confidence that if it does; you have a plan in place.
- Be aware of your asthma triggers and avoid them where possible.
- Make sure you have enough asthma medication to last you one month.
- Smoking will increase your risk of COVID-19 complications, including more frequent or severe asthma attacks. There has never been a better time to stop.
As with all illnesses and viruses, prevention is critical. Here are measures you can take to lower your risk of contracting COVID-19:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. Wash both front and back as well as around the nails and nail beds. Clean hands are more important than wearing gloves as the virus can sit on the surface of the glove just as it can on your skin.
- Avoid touching your face, the single best thing you can do to prevent contracting the virus. If you are wearing a mask, ensure your hands are clean before fitting and adjusting your mask.
- Use tissues if coughing or sneezing and bin them immediately after use.
- Continue to practice physical distancing as advised. Being within 2 metres of an infected person for longer than 15 minutes increases the risk of infection. Avoid all non-essential face-to-face contact and avoid physical interactions until advised it is safe to do so.
- Clean or disinfect surfaces that are touched frequently.
If you feel like your asthma is deteriorating, or you develop a ‘new’ cough or ‘new’ fever, call your GP as soon as possible. Remind your GP that you are asthmatic and describe how your asthma symptoms have changed. Tell your GP how often you are using your inhaler if it is working to relieve your symptoms.
Please do not fear contracting COVID-19 by attending your GP or A&E if required in an emergency. Those with medical problems must seek the necessary care. GP surgeries and hospital employ strict infection control measures as essential medical care providers.
Overall, the COVID-19 outbreak does not require any change to a good asthma management routine. However, it is recommended that asthmatics are aware of the necessary measures to avoid infection.
By Rachael Cleary
‘Health Advice for People with Asthma’ Asthma UK 2020: https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/coronavirus-covid-19/
‘Coronavirus Advice’ Asthma Society of Ireland, 2020: https://www.asthma.ie/news/coronavirus-covid-19-advice
Image by Debbie Courson Smith from Pixabay