The World Asthma Day is organized every year on the first Tuesday of May. The goal of organizing it is to spread awareness and improve the quality of care for asthma patients across the world. It is organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA). The first ever World Asthma Day was organized in 1998 in over 35 countries.
Asthma – an overview
Asthma is a medical condition that occurs when your airways narrow down and produce excessive mucus. Both of these factors make it difficult to breathe. Other symptoms of asthma are wheezing and coughing.
Generally, the condition of asthma is chronic and requires careful attention. The symptoms don’t occur in the same intensity in everyone – some experience mild symptoms while others have severe asthmatic attacks, which sometimes turn fatal.
It is assumed that asthma is triggered by environmental and genetic factors. A few environmental triggers are – cold air, pollen or dust mites, smoke, stress and preservatives added to food.
Is there a link between COVID-19 and asthma?
No, there isn’t a direct link between the two. COVID-19 is a respiratory disorder caused by coronavirus. It affects the respiratory apparatus in the body – throat, nose and the lungs.
Now if an asthmatic person is infected with COVID-19 then the person could suffer an asthma attack, pneumonia or other severe lung problems.
Although there is no evidence to show that having asthma increases your risk of contracting COVID-19, health experts have suggested that asthmatics will experience severe COVID-19 symptoms if they were to contract it. This is because COVID-19 leads to breathing troubles, and asthmatics already have breathing difficulties.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 and asthma
Some symptoms of COVID-19 and asthma are similar. They are cough and breathing difficulties.
So how can you tell whether it’s an asthma attack or you have been infected by COVID-19? Check your temperature, studies have found that a large percentage of COVID-19 patients experience fever, it could be mild or high.
You can consult a doctor though MediBuddy’s E-consultancy services if you are having frequent attacks of asthma.
Should you call the doctor?
If you are asthmatic and notice signs of fever, cough and breathing difficulties, consult a doctor right away.
You should also contact your doctor under the following circumstances –
- Asthma medicine does not work as intended
- Pain in the chest
- Unable to talk
- Pale or blue lips
- Unable to breathe
What can you do?
Take medications for your asthma as prescribed. Avoid going out and even if you do, then wear a mask. This will lower your chances of being exposed to the virus. Stock up on foods and medication so that you don’t have to go out often to buy essentials.
A few other things you should do are –
- Keep your nebulizer clean
- Stay away from triggers like pollen and smoke
- Maintain social distancing
- Don’t share personal items
- Avoid sick people
- Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds
- Disinfect any object that other people touch a lot such as doorknobs and tables
- Indulge in relaxing activities to reduce stress
If there are sick people in the house, then you have to isolate yourself. Avoid going near them and disinfect common spaces regularly.
You can keep a peak flow meter with you and use it daily to measure the speed at which air comes out of your lungs. Note down the readings in a diary. This will help your doctor determine if the symptoms of asthma are worsening or if these are signs of COVID-19.
Asthma treatment and COVID-19
Asthma patients use corticosteroids to reduce the inflammatory response of the body, and these drugs are known to affect the immune system. However, doctors advise asthma patients to remain on these medications to keep asthma in control – as the benefits outweigh the risks.
Experts have also advised asthma patients to be extremely vigilant about following guidelines to protect themselves from COVID-19.
Asthma can be a problem when COVID-19 is in the air. But if you remain extra careful, then you can sail through these trying times with ease. Stay safe!