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Coronavirus And Asthma: Here's Everything You Need To Know

Are asthmatics more at risk when it comes to COVID-19?

Asthma sufferers may be wondering if they count as a “vulnerable group” when it comes to the effects of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. People who are elderly, pregnant, or have serious health conditions have been asked to self-isolate and may need to social distance for even longer than most other members of the public for their own safety.

What does this mean for those who suffer from asthma – given that 3.8 million people in Canada live with the condition?

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Do you have to self-isolate if you have asthma?

Those at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 included those with chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, according to the World Health Organization.

Currently, the advice for at-risk groups is to “be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures” and should stop “non-essential contact with others.”

Asthma UK advises it’s worth thinking ahead and taking steps to reduce contact with others, for example by avoiding crowded spaces. “It would be a good idea for people with long-term lung conditions – including asthma – to start thinking about how they would manage,” the charity said.

“Examples might include discussing arrangements to work from home with your employer. At the moment, this is not the guidance for people with lung conditions, but it is wise to prepare for what may happen next.”

You should also make plans to help you cope if the spread of the virus causes significant disruption.

This might include making sure you know how you would get your medicines, food and other essential items if you had to self-isolate for a longer period, and thinking about how you would stay in touch with friends and family.

How does coronavirus affect those with asthma?

When people with asthma get respiratory infections, it can set off their asthma symptoms, Asthma UK says. Sufferers should continue to reduce risk of asthma symptoms by:

  • Keep taking their preventer inhaler (usually brown) daily as prescribed. This will help cut risk of an asthma attack being triggered by any respiratory virus, including coronavirus.

  • Carry their reliever inhaler (usually blue) with them every day in case they feel their asthma symptoms flaring up.

  • Download and use an asthma action plan to help them recognize and manage asthma symptoms when they come on.

But, the evidence is still unclear about whether people with asthma are more affected by COVID-19 than people without the condition, TIME reported.

“The data that we have so far from China and South Korea does not identify people with asthma as being at risk of getting the virus or having more severe illness with the virus,” Sebastian Johnston, a professor of respiratory medicine at the U.K. National Heart and Lung Institute, told the magazine, though he advised asthmatics to remain cautious.

What to do if your asthma gets worse

If your asthma is getting worse and you have symptoms of COVID-19, contact your local health-care provider and tell them your symptoms and mention that you have a chronic condition and your symptoms are acting up. Don’t go to the office in person unless you’re told. Explain how often you are using your reliever inhaler and if it’s not working completely or lasting for four hours. If your condition changes severely and rapidly, call 911.

If your asthma is getting worse and you don’t have symptoms of COVID-19, make an urgent appointment to see your family doctor.

With a file from HuffPost Canada

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