According to the World Health Organization and CDC, people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma are considered high-risk and should take precautions when any type of respiratory illness is spreading in their community. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, but at this time, little is known about how the coronavirus affects people with asthma. One study of 140 cases showed no link to asthma.
So prevention is the word for people with asthma.
The steps people with asthma should take include:
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 to 30 seconds, always after coughing or sneezing. If you don’t have access to running water, use an alcohol-based hand cleanser that is at least 60% alcohol.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Participate in social-distancing, staying away from crowds and especially people who are sick.
- Take your daily asthma medicines to keep your asthma under control.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has an excellent website with emerging information on COVID-19 and asthma. Below are some questions and answers from that site. You can visit the webpage here.
Are people with asthma at higher risk of contracting COVID-19?
Not that we are aware of – although data is still developing.
Are people with asthma at higher risk of poor outcomes from COVID-19?
So far, there has been little information on people with asthma with COVID-19. There has been at least one publication suggesting no effect of COVID-19 on asthma. But, it is important to note that there are several other coronaviruses that normally circulate and cause cold/flu like symptoms. These viruses have been shown to cause asthma episodes or attacks. So, whether COVID-19 can cause asthma episodes or attacks remains to be seen.
**UPDATE: Since our original post, the CDC has updated guidance for people with moderate to severe asthma.**
The CDC notes that people with moderate to severe asthma may be at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. The virus impacts the respiratory system and may trigger asthma attacks.
As there is no treatment for COVID-19, prevention is key.
The CDC recommends people with asthma follow this guidance:
Prepare for COVID-19
- Stock up on supplies.
- Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
- When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick.
- Clean your hands often by washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid crowds and people who are sick.
- Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
- During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.
- If someone in your home is sick, have them stay away from the rest of the household to reduce the risk of spreading the virus in your home.
- Avoid sharing personal household items such as cups and towels.
Follow your Asthma Action Plan
- Keep your asthma under control by following your asthma action plan.
- Continue your current medications, including any inhalers with steroids in them (“steroids” is another word for corticosteroids).
- Don’t stop any medications or change your asthma treatment plan without talking to your healthcare provider.
- Discuss any concerns about your treatment with your healthcare provider.
- Talk to your healthcare provider, insurer, and pharmacist about creating an emergency supply of prescription medications, such as asthma inhalers. Make sure that you have 30 days of non-prescription medications and supplies on hand too in case you need to stay home for a long time.
- Know how to use your inhaler.
- Avoid your asthma triggers.
- As more cases of COVID-19 are discovered and our communities take action to combat the spread of disease, it is natural for some people to feel concerned or stressed. Strong emotions can trigger an asthma attack. Take steps to help yourself cope with stress and anxiety.
Clean and disinfect things you or your family touch frequently
If possible, have someone who doesn’t have asthma do the cleaning and disinfecting. When they use cleaning and disinfecting products, have them:
- Make sure that people with asthma are not in the room.
- Minimize use of disinfectants that can cause an asthma attack.
- Open windows or doors and use a fan that blows air outdoors.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces like phones, remotes, tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks daily.
- Always follow the instructions on the product label.
- Spray or pour spray products onto a cleaning cloth or paper towel instead of spraying the product directly onto the cleaning surface (if the product label allows).
If you have symptoms
Contact your health care provider to ask about your symptoms.
Should people with asthma wear a disposable mask when in public areas?
**There is now updated guidance from the CDC on masks**
The most important things to do are:
- Wash your hands with soap and water often.
- Practice social distancing.
- Avoid people who are coughing/sneezing and have cold like symptoms.
- Make sure you take your medicine and get your asthma under best control.
- Get the seasonal influenza vaccine, if you have not.
**The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings when in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.**
From the CDC, "It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure."
"The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance."
More information can be found here.
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