The research indicates that sufferers of asthma are no more likely to develop coronavirus than the rest of the general population. However, because asthma affects the airways it is important to make sure you exercise as much protection against contracting coronavirus as possible, and also that you manage your asthma as responsibly as you can. Let’s take a closer look at asthma and coronavirus, how they interact and when you need to get in touch with your general practitioner.
What Is Asthma And How Does It Affect The Airways?
Asthma is a condition that affects the airways and compromises a sufferer’s ability to breathe in and out. When a sufferer is a having an asthma attack, he or she may present with
- High pitched breathing or wheezing
- A tight or uncomfortable feeling in the chest
- Shortness of breath and feeling unable to get enough oxygen into the body
Not all asthmatic people experience all symptoms, and different people are triggered by different events. Some common triggers of asthma include pollen, cigarette smoke, exercises and colds and flu. So that means, it is quite possible that anyone who has severe asthma who contracts coronavirus disease may expect an asthma attack and should be as prepared as possible to deal with it.
Certainly anyone with severe asthma is at greater risk of complications should they contract coronavirus disease, but anyone who suffers from asthma needs to take the mandatory precautions to protect themselves from covid-19 and to ensure that their asthma symptoms are well managed.
In order to ensure you manage severe asthma at all times you should
- Ensure you always have your medication. This means that you have enough of it, and that it is accessible to you, in case of an asthma attack.
- An action plan for yourself and for those who are around you, so that you always know what to do in the event that you do experience a severe asthma attack.
- Visit your general practitioner on a regular basis, so that any changes in your condition can be closely monitored and responded to.
When a person is having an asthma attack , they experience
- A thickening of their airways
The airways become swollen and inflamed. Any medication you may be taking works to reduce this inflammation and swelling.
- A tightening of their airways
The muscles in the airways thin, creating a smaller space and constricting the passage for air to flow through.
- The airways filling up with mucus
Some of the medication you take for severe asthma is there to reduce the amount of mucus that is produced.
Asthma and coronavirus can put asthma sufferers at risk because of the damage that covid-19 can do to the lungs. Managing your symptoms is an important step in protecting your health against long term harm and damage.
Practicing exemplary hygiene and taking the necessary measures to prevent coronavirus disease is essential if you have severe asthma. Some of those measures include
- Making sure you are taking preventer medication as part of your asthma management. Discuss with your general practitioner whether your medication is at the correct dose for your management needs.
- Make sure you can reach and access your reliever inhaler medication in the event that you do feel an asthma attack coming on
- Ensure you understand that your triggers and symptoms are, and do your best to manage the triggers to prevent an unexpected asthma attack
- Make sure you practice exemplary hygiene by using sanitiser on a regular basis, especially when you are out
- Restrict your movements and avoid any unnecessary outings, big crowds and unsanitary environments that contain your triggers
In the event that you do start to feel unwell, you must contact your general practitioner as soon as possible. This is especially important if you have been overseas in the 14 days preceding your feelings of being unwell.
- Any cold or flu-like symptoms such as coughing, fever or unexpected congestion should be reported as soon as possible
- Familiarise and remind yourself of your asthma action plan on a regular basis and always make sure you are well equipped to be able to follow it.
If you are diagnosed with covid-19 it is important to self isolate and follow your doctor’s orders to prevent infecting anyone else. While the general population is advised to wear masks out in public, it is not necessarily a good idea for people who have existing respiratory problems as it may compromise your ability to breathe.
If you are required to self isolate following contact with a covid-positive person, you should ensure that you have a 30-day supply of asthma medication to keep your condition under management.
You should also ask a close friend or relative to do your shopping and essential outings for you, leaving anything you might need at your front door so that you do not expose anyone else.
If you have any questions or concerns about asthma and coronavirus and how they interact, or about managing your condition you should seek medical assistance. Please contact us: (02) 9884 9300.