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Asthma and COVID-19

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Asthma and COVID-19

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If a person is asthmatic, they might doubt be more prone to have severe complications of COVID-19. Read this article to know more.

Written by

Dr. Lochana .k

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Amit Jauhari

Published At August 1, 2020
Reviewed AtFebruary 22, 2023

What Is COVID-19?

COVID-19 has been the scariest thing ever in the last two and a half years. It has been proven to be more contagious and has been transmitted through the nasopharyngeal secretions of the affected individuals. It is a primary disease of the respiratory system in human beings. However, it also affects the gastrointestinal and nervous systems, though the accurate pathophysiology has not been established yet. Also, it has been proven that the primary target of COVID-19 is people with a low immune system. They are termed the immunocompromised group of people.

These immunocompromised people fall particularly into two age groups:

  1. The youngest human beings are children less than 14 years. They still do not have a well-established immune system.

  2. The other group is the elderly, who are 55 to 60 years and above. They have deteriorating immune systems.

But, specific individuals who are not in these age groups also have a low immune system due to the presence of severe diseases like HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), cancer, etc.

Asthma is not a life-threatening disease, but it is an easy situation in which infection can occur easily. The pandemic has made even healthy individuals fear for their health. But, people with other comorbid conditions, especially when it is a respiratory condition, could even die.

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is one of the most common respiratory conditions, which causes dyspnea in the affected person. It causes difficulty in respiration. Asthma is usually caused due to several reasons. It might be transferred through families that fall under the genetic cause of the disease. It most commonly occurs due to an allergic trigger. It causes the immune system to start a hypersensitivity reaction. The allergic triggers might be dust, pollen grains, seasonal changes, mites, pets, and chemicals. When a hypersensitivity reaction is started, immune cells are released, and it somehow causes the smooth muscle-aided severe bronchoconstriction of the respiratory system. This will lead to symptoms like cough, wheezing, chest retractions, etc. The episodes of asthma are referred to as asthma attacks.

Asthma attacks in any individual might be acute or even chronic, depending upon the occurrence. Immediate medical care and attention are often needed. However, in people who have recurrent episodes of asthma, patients are provided with handy inhalers to take puffs adequately as prophylaxis and for acute treatment of asthma under uncertain conditions. The medicines that are used in the treatment of asthma are short-acting and long-acting bronchodilators like Salbutamol, Salmeterol, and corticosteroids also can be used in acutely severe cases. Nebulizers and intravenous Theophylline can also be used. In the case of co-infections, intravenous and oral antibiotics can be given.

What Are the Associated Risk Factors?

Any comorbid health condition increases the risk of getting infected by a coronavirus. As said earlier, if the comorbid condition is related to the respiratory system, the risk is actually doubled. Practicing doctors in this COVID-19 crisis suggest that a history of asthma in patients increases the risk of getting a severe form of infection.

Asthma is already a disease that limits respiration, and it can also aid in the development of co-infections. So, an asthmatic patient who gets acute or chronic attacks of asthma when they come in contact with the coronavirus due to any reason, can develop a co-infection with the virus. During the infected phase, if the patient gets an asthma attack, as we know, coronavirus already makes breathing a difficult task; an asthma attack adds to the severity of the condition. So, the affected individual will experience severe difficulty in breathing, which might aggravate the disease. The established hypersensitivity reaction by the immune system might also interfere with the immune-mediated responses during the coronavirus infection. All the above factors might be a severe risk factor in an asthmatic patient during a coronavirus infection.

How to Prevent Asthmatic Attacks Over the Pandemic?

Though the data in the last two years suggest a weak association between asthma and COVID-19, yet asthmatic attacks should be prevented. Asthmatic attacks can be avoided by distancing asthma triggers, reducing the amount of dust in the living area, limiting travel to dusty environments. When stepping out of the house, a person should compulsorily wear masks.

Regular intake of prophylactic asthmatic medicines like inhalers and, most important, medicines should be carried handily to prevent acute attacks of asthma. Avoiding or skipping a controller or prophylactic medication will lead to a situation called asthmatic exacerbation. Asthmatic exacerbation needs emergency medical care at the hospital, where the risk of being exposed to coronavirus is quite high.

The regular practice of washing hands with soap is very mandatory and the most basic one. People with asthma who work in office environments where washing hands often is not possible should carry a pocket hand sanitizer and disinfect their hands at regular intervals. Contact surfaces at the homes of asthmatics should also be regularly cleaned. Above all, smoking is a risk factor for both asthmas as well as COVID-19. Thus it is essential to quit smoking during this pandemic, especially for asthmatics.

What Are the Symptoms in Asthmatic Patients?

There are a few common symptoms in both COVID 19 and asthma. The common symptoms are cough, difficulty breathing, and fever. However, a patient who has recurrent asthma attacks can recognize the difference between an asthmatic attack and any other common flu-like symptoms easily. The main symptom that distinguishes asthma from COVID-19 is wheezing. Wheezing does not occur more commonly in coronavirus infection. Because COVID-19 presents commonly with flu-like symptoms that are sore throat, cough, fever, headache, and fatigue, it might also present digestive symptoms like diarrhea which are not usually significant with asthmatic attacks.

What Happens When an Asthma Patient Experiences COVID-19 Symptoms?

When an asthmatic patient experiences COVID-19-like symptoms, the first step the patient has to do is self-isolate himself or herself from the rest of the family members. Next, if the person should consult with a doctor regularly, or if the person has a family doctor who knows the patient’s history thoroughly well, the patient can contact the doctor and explain the symptoms experienced by the patient and seek medical advice and follow accordingly.

If the symptoms feel more like an asthma attack, short-acting bronchodilators like inhalers can be taken, and corticosteroids can also be tried if the doctor advises so. If there are acute asthma exacerbation-like symptoms along with flu-like symptoms, immediate treatment or management at the hospital might be needed. Something even more important than that is the patient or the family members accompanying the patient to the hospital are responsible for providing an adequate history of the person’s comorbid conditions, especially the history of asthma, and the treatment history must be informed to the hospital. Thus, this is how patients with a history of acute or chronic asthma can prevent, protect, and manage themselves during this coronavirus pandemic.

Conclusion

COVID-19 have symptoms associated like breathlessness and coughing, which are similar to asthma. But a high temperature, tiredness, and changes in taste or smell do not usually happen with an asthma attack. These symptoms are more likely to be due to coronavirus infection. Therefore there is some difference between asthma and COVID-19 infections. It is always recommended to consult a healthcare professional if a person has any of these symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

What Happens If an Individual Gets Asthma and COVID?

Individuals with moderate-to-severe and uncontrolled asthma are likelier to be hospitalized for COVID-19. This can lead to breathlessness and coughing, similar to asthma. High temperatures, tiredness, and changes in taste lead to more asthma.

2.

How to Know if I Am Asthmatic?

Shortness of breath, chest tightness, pain, and wheezing when exhaling are common signs of asthma. This causes trouble sleeping and causes shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing.

3.

Do Asthma Patients Survive COVID-19?

Coronaviruses do make asthma worse. One can feel worse with coronaviruses as they already have trouble breathing. Studies suggest an increased risk of an asthma attack when one has COVID-19. A lot depends on the type of asthma and whether it is well controlled.

4.

How Can It Be Done to Test Asthma?

Spirometry is the test done to determine asthma. An individual is required to blow into the machine, and this measures how fast this is breathed out and how much air the lungs hold. The blow is a handheld device that measures fat breathing and can be done several times over weeks, and changes are noted over time

5.

When Does Asthma Start?

Asthma often starts during childhood, before a person is five. Many children face asthma as a common chronic condition.  This leads to missing school and ending up in the hospital for further treatment.

6.

How to Treat Asthma Patients With COVID?

Treating asthmatic individuals with COVID, staying at home, and avoiding contact with others. Manage coronavirus symptoms; keep taking the usual asthma medications. Follow the asthma action plan. Act quickly, and asthma symptoms will get worse.

7.

Can Asthma Go Away?

Asthma is a long-term condition for many individuals; it sometimes develops in adults and children. This condition sometimes disappears, improves in adolescence, and can return later.

8.

What Should Be Done to Avoid Asthma?

An individual should mainly avoid the materials that trigger asthmatic attacks. Tobacco smoke, outdoor air pollution, pests, pets, mold, other triggers, disinfection and cleaning, tobacco smoke, dust mites, and other allergens and triggers.

9.

What Is the Best Treatment for Asthma?

The best asthma treatment is the device that lets you breathe the medicine and the main treatment. Other treatments and tablets are also needed if the asthma is severe. Usually, personal action and a detailed plan with a healthcare provider are recommended.

10.

Are Asthmatics Less Likely to Get COVID?

Health factors that increase a person's risk of severe COVID include chronic lung conditions like COPD, but individuals with allergic asthma are less susceptible to severe diseases.

11.

Can COVID Make Asthma Worse?

Comparison and asymptomatic COVID-19 asthma individuals show no differences related to demographics, asthma severity, or comorbidities. Observed patients with various symptoms related to COVID-19 and worsening asthma symptoms.

12.

What Vitamins Are Good for Asthma?

Studies show encouraging devices and evidence of the protective effects of many nutrients that help with disease symptoms and prevalence. Vitamin E, C, magnesium, and selenium intake are good for asthma.

13.

How to Calm Asthma Fast?

Fast-acting medication and quick relief inhalers like albuterol help recover asthma, and they are needed to quickly open the airways, making breathing easier and preventing impending asthma attacks.

14.

What Medicine Can Cure Asthma Permanently?

Asthma is a treatable condition, but no permanent cure exists. Asthma is a lifelong condition, and an individual can live with it through effective treatment and lifestyle methods, indirectly reducing symptoms and easing life with asthma.

15.

Who Is Most at Risk for Asthma?

An individual exposed to an environment range with more irritants and allergens is more likely to get asthma. This includes both outdoor and indoor allergens and also occupational exposure to chemicals. Adults and children who are obese are at greatest risk of getting asthma.
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Dr. Amit Jauhari
Dr. Amit Jauhari

Pulmonology (Asthma Doctors)

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