How To Avoid Being Infected With COVID-19 If You Have Asthma?

Answered by: Dr Sri Viknarajan
Updated on: May 9, 2020

Question:
Hello there, I am Aidin, a local university student. I have chronic asthma since I am 8 years old. Lately, I notice that my asthma attacks are getting more frequent than usual. I am worried as I came across news that asthmatic patient has higher risk of being infected with COVID-19. Is that true? So far, I am just using my blue and brown inhaler. What should I do to reduce my risk of infection, doctor? Have I been infected with the virus? Please answer my question as soon as possible. Thanks in advance.
Answer:
Hi, Aidin. I know that the symptoms that you have been experiencing are concerning you at the moment. I am very happy to help you with your problems and for futher clarification, you may want to read more regarding the correlation between asthma and COVID-19 in the article below to get a grasp of what it is about.

You might have already aware that people with asthma or any respiratory illness are at greater risk of COVID-19 infection or getting a serious compilation from being infected by this virus. This fact may cause you to worry. However, this virus is everywhere and you just can’t do anything about it. However, you can still practice effective measures to prevent this infection.

Asthma is a respiratory disease caused by the narrowing of the airway due to oversensitivity towards a number of environmental or internal factors. Most patients will experience symptoms of shortness of breath, chest tightness, and night cough. However, these symptoms can be alleviated by the use of inhalers. Is it true that this group is at greater risk of being infected with COVID-19? There are currently few studies showing that asthma patients are at greater risk to be infected by COVID-19. However, what is more worrying is the fact that they are at greater risk of developing severe asthma attacks that result in sudden airway collapse and severe pneumonia if infected by this virus. 

So, what are the precautionary steps you can take as an asthmatic person during this COVID-19 outbreak? Control your asthma symptoms and avoid frequent asthma attacks. One of the very best things to do is to avoid the factors that trigger your asthma attacks. If the use of brand A detergent is the cause, change to another brand. If exposure to a cat can cause you to have a sleepless night due to coughing and breathlessness all night long, avoid the animal and make sure your surroundings are free from its fur. You want to make sure that your immune system is strong enough to prevent complications if infected by COVID-19 or any other viruses.

Remember to take your asthma medications or prevention as recommended by your doctor. Worry that steroid use will weaken your immune system? Therefore you decide to stop taking it? That’s a lethal mistake! Steroid inhalation works specifically on the airways. If fate determines that you are infected with COVID-19, you don’t want to have an exacerbated asthma attack on top of this. 

In the meantime, practice a healthy lifestyle and ensure you stay in a clean environment. Healthy eating can help improve the body's immune system. It is advisable to regularly clean your nebulizer or inhaler before using it. Since you will be using it around your mouth and nose. If there is a virus on the surface, you will be easily infected. 

You should also take precautions based on guidelines issued by the Malaysian Disease Control Division:

  • Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth without washing your hands.
  • Stay away from sick people especially those who have symptoms of COVID-19 infection
  • Avoid crowded areas
  • Make sure the mouth and nose are covered with tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing


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