Managing Asthma and COVID-19

Managing Asthma and COVID-19

Keeping healthy is top of mind for everyone considering the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. However, for people with asthma there’s even greater concern about getting very sick from COVID-19 – a virus which affects the respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs) possibly leading to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease1.

If people can manage their asthma at home this would be far better than ending up in hospital, amidst this viral epidemic right now.

According to The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, anyone who is immune-compromised or has severe asthma, is more susceptible to viral infections such as COVID-192. The World Health Organisation estimates that 235 million people globally suffer from asthma3.

The Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) has advised that people with asthma should continue to use their inhaler medication, including corticosteroids as prescribed by a doctor. In acute asthma attacks a short course of oral corticosteroids may be prescribed4.

A proper self-management strategy can prevent poor quality of life, more frequent use of rescue (reliever) medication, increased healthcare utilization and even death5. It is imperative also that people with asthma know how to use their inhalers correctly to ensure correct administration of the medication6.

  • All asthmatics should have enough emergency supply of prescribed medications at home1.
  • It is recommended that each asthmatic has the following at home: a preventer, a reliever and a spacer4.
  • Nebulizers should be avoided for acute attacks as they increase the risk of spreading COVID-19 to other patients and healthcare professionals4.
  • A Pressurised Metered-Dose Inhaler Design (pMDI) via a spacer is the preferred treatment during attacks4.
  • Don’t share a spacer with anyone.
  • While a patient is being treated for a severe attack, their maintenance inhaled asthma treatment should be continued (at home and in hospital)
  • Avoid asthma triggers1.

 

1. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention – People with Moderate to Severe Asthma. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/asthma.html

2. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Important information about COVID-19 for those with asthma. Available at https://acaai.org/news/important-information-about-covid-19-those-asthma.

3. World Health Organisation – Chronic Respiratory Diseases. Available at http://www9.who.int/respiratory/asthma/en/

4. Global initiative for asthma – COVID-19: GINA Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on asthma management

5. European Journal of Allergy and clinical immunology – The burden of nonadherence among adults with asthma: a role for shared decision‐making. Available at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/all.13090

6. Asthma UK – Using your inhalers. Available at https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/inhalers-medicines-treatments/using-inhalers/

Visit the official COVID-19 government website to stay informed: sacoronavirus.co.za
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