Asthma and the COVID-19 pandemic
Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the airways to the lungs. It makes breathing a difficult task for many. It can be minor but it can be as severe as interfering with your daily activities.
Difference between a healthy (non-asthmatic) and an asthmatic is that when a non-asthmatic person takes a breath, the air goes from nose to throat to airways and enters into lungs and then oxygen is delivered into the bloodstream. However, in case of an asthmatic person, airways are swollen, and muscles around airways tighten, mucus fills the airways, and the amount of air reaching the lungs is reduced. This leads to an asthmatic attack which feels like shortness of breath or in extreme cases, feels like gagging.
Tightness in chest and coughing are general symptoms of Asthma and should not be immediately confused for COVID-19.
Other symptoms that are common to asthmatic patients include the following:-
- A sound made while breathing which is called wheezing
Asthma could be caused due to multiple reasons. A few of those include:-
- Viral Infection history during childhood
- Allergen Exposure
- Weak immune system
Asthma & COVID-19
COVID-19 is an infectious disease, and this disease primarily affects the respiratory system.
When a person gets a respiratory virus, the infection sets the body’s immune response to react. In the case of asthmatic patients, overproduction of immunity triggering substances can happen, which can worsen inflammation. Hence, cause aggregation in respiratory issues during a COVID-19 infection.
No evidence suggests that people with Asthma are more likely to contract COVID 19, but respiratory viruses can trigger and worsen asthma symptoms.
Asthma does not appear to be a vital factor for contracting coronavirus, but it may cause serious illness in Asthmatic patients.
Apart from the obvious COVID-19 symptoms, asthmatic elders should watch out for the following additional symptoms:-
- An increase in wheezing or chest tightness
- Aggravated Breathlessness
- Nighttime or early morning coughing
- Increased use of rescue inhaler
To help asthmatic elders combat these challenging times, here is an effective Asthma Action Plan. Following this could help you if you are asthmatic.
- Continue taking regular medications as usual during the pandemic. Do not change.
- Keep your Asthma control.
- Contact your doctor or a healthcare expert in case of need. Do not indulge in self medications.
- If you notice any symptom, seek doctor’s advice.
- Ensure sufficient medication supply.
- Use your inhaler correctly.
- Avoid asthma triggers that you are vulnerable to.
- Disinfect frequently touched places.
- Take a healthy, nutritious diet.
In addition to the government’s guidelines of COVID-19 precautions, here is a typical list of Asthma triggers which should be avoided by Asthmatics.
- Tobacco Smoke
- Weather extremes
- Strong odours
- Strenuous Exercises
If you’re an elder who has asthma, here are a few things you could do:-
- Ventilate your house well.
- As a regular exercise, take a deep breath in front of an open window for fresh air, hold it for a few seconds, and then breathe out completely. This should be repeated without straining yourself.
- Pranayama and Yoga under expert supervision are also advisable. Blowing balloons without straining yourself is also an exercise that could be picked.
- Walking indoors is advisable but ensure that you have removed carpets or items on which you could stumble before you begin your walk.
- Use stairs instead of elevators.
- Once it is safe to go out in public places, one can do certain activities like swimming*, badminton, volleyball, weight lifting, these exercises improve the function of lungs without overstaining them. However, it is essential to consult your doctor before practising any of these physical activities.
Fear will not help us fight COVID-19 if we have asthma, awareness and alertness will.
Asthma can be managed just like usual times.Do not stress yourself. Keep all the caution and managing asthma will feel like just any other day.
Stay home, stay safe!
*If you are allergic to chlorine then you should avoid going to the swimming pool.