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Asthma and Coronavirus

Author: Open Airways 

What should people with asthma know about the current Covid-19 pandemic. 

First the good news, someone with asthma is not at a higher risk of catching the coronavirus if they practice hand washing and follow social distancing guidelines. But the bad news is, that having moderate or severe asthma may put you at risk of a more severe case of coronavirus if you become infected.

 However, well controlled asthma is your best defence against complications from the coronavirus.

 But what is well controlled asthma? Asthma control should mean;  

Coronavirus is a new disease and we still have limited  information  on the effects of coronavirus on someone with asthma, but we can imagine that if someone with asthma has inflamed air- ways due to their uncontrolled asthma and they then contract coronavirus which can also cause inflammation in the airways it can lead to more severe complications. 

Taking your preventer inhalers every day as prescribed controls and reduces the inflammation in the airways this reducing any asthma symptoms and reducing the possible complications of coronavirus. 

What Is Asthma? 

Asthma is a condition that affects the airways – the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. 

If you have asthma your airways are extra sensitive. When you come into contact with something you are allergic to, or something that irritates your airways (a trigger), your airways will become inflamed causing them to become narrower, making it harder to breathe. 

The lining of the small airways become inflamed and swollen. Sticky mucous is often produced, and the muscles around the sensitive airways tighten. In an asthma attack, the airway lining starts to swell, the muscles tighten and mucous is secreted. 

How to control Asthma 

Controlling asthma requires the correct medication/inhalers and where possible managing or preventing triggers. Treatment of asthma needs to focus on controlling the inflammation in the airways and daily preventer/control inhalers should be taken, these inhalers contain inhaled corticosteroids and are the most important inhalers used to keep asthma under control. Used on a daily basis these inhalers can reduce asthma symptoms and eliminate asthma flare-ups. 

Preventer inhalers stop your airways from being so sensitive. 

They may take seven to 10 days to be effective. The protective effect builds up over several weeks. 

Emergency/Relief inhalers are taken to relieve asthma symptoms (cough, wheeze & tight chest). 

They quickly relax the muscles surrounding the narrowed airways (within five to 10 minutes), making it easier to breathe again. 

If you need your emergency/ relief inhaler more than twice a week, talk to your doctor – you may need a preventer inhaler. This is because emergency/relief inhalers do not reduce the swelling in your airways. 

If you are using an emergency/ relief inhaler more than twice a week you are not treating your asthma and may be making it worse. Everyone with asthma should have an annual review with their pediatrician or GP, for review of their medications, inhaler technique checks and update of written asthma action plan. 

If you have any questions or would like to see the asthma nurse for an asthma review please contact Open Airways on 232-0264 or email nurse@openairways.com. BPM