As the coronavirus pandemic intensifies throughout Texas, those with chronic conditions like asthma may be particularly concerned. Because the virus is still so new and scientists are having to learn about it in real-time, our understanding of COVID-19 grows over time, shedding new light on how it affects people both with and without chronic conditions. What we’ve recently come to understand about how COVID-19 affects those with asthma has come as a bit of a surprise because for many asthma sufferers, it is not as concerning as you might expect.
As it turns out, evidence is starting to emerge showing that it is only those with non-allergic asthma that are at any increased risk for more severe COVID-19 complications. These are people who experience asthma attacks triggered by exercise, stress, and other factors. Those who experience seasonal asthma flare-ups due to allergens, such as mold or pollen, do not appear to be at any heightened risk for COVID-19 complications or severity. This means that about half of adults and most children with asthma are at no increased risk for severe coronavirus complications.
What to do if you have asthma
Whichever of the types of asthma you have, you likely treat your condition with steroid medication. And because steroids can suppress the immune system, you may be tempted to stop your medication. Here at Laredo Emergency Room, our advice is: don’t. Keeping your asthma controlled is your best strategy for staying healthy and out of the emergency room. You also may be encouraged to know that some scientists think that because steroids work to reduce inflammation, they may actually help protect COVID-19 patients who use them. This means sticking with your medication and using your asthma spray at the first signs of asthma symptoms or an asthma attack.
During the pandemic, you can reduce your chances of contracting the coronavirus in the first place by continuing to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces, keep your hands clean, avoid touching your face, maintain a distance of 6 feet from others, avoid large crowds, and wear a face covering if you are able.
As someone with asthma, you’ll want to take some extra precautions, too. Talk to your treating physician and insurer about having an extra supply of emergency inhalers, allergy drugs, or other medications so that you can refill them less frequently and so that you have all you might need in case you need to avoid leaving home. Take extra care in avoiding the things that trigger an asthma attack. And take steps to reduce stress, such as by disconnecting from the news or electronic devices.
If you do experience asthma symptoms or an asthma attack during the pandemic, be sure to use your emergency medication ñ and to come to a fast ER like Laredo Emergency Room if needed. We’re taking extra precautions and making sure to keep our facilities clean so that we can safely care for you, no matter what.