Being able to breathe without issue is something we often take for granted. When you have asthma, however, breathing is one of the only things you think about. Asthma affects approximately 12 million Americans, and that number continues to grow each day. Those suffering from asthma experience chronic coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. These symptoms can be problematic in the face of COVID-19. In this article, you’ll learn all about asthma. We’ll cover symptoms, risk factors, treatment, and how to avoid COVID-19 as an asthmatic.
In this article, you’ll learn all about asthma. We’ll cover symptoms, risk factors, treatment, and how to avoid COVID-19 as an asthmatic.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic lung condition that affects a person’s breathing patterns and often causes wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and asthma attacks. Asthma is a lifelong condition that can be grouped into four categories: intermittent, persistent-mild, persistent-moderate, and persistent-severe. Although asthma is chronic, the symptoms are manageable with proper treatment and precautions.
Asthmatics can have symptoms triggered by a variety of things, including chemicals, cigarette smoke, and various allergens (e.g. dust and pet dander). Symptoms may also appear if the sufferer contracts a viral respiratory infection, like COVID-19. When symptoms are triggered, the person is at risk for an asthma attack. These attacks are capable of lasting anywhere from a few minutes to a few days; they are even known to be deadly. It is vital to keep your doctor up to date about your asthma and notify him or her if your symptoms worsen or if you experience an asthma attack.
Why Asthmatics Should Be Wary of COVID-19
If a patient suffering from asthma contracts a viral respiratory infection, his or her symptoms can worsen, making daily life incredibly taxing. COVID-19 is one of the most contagious and deadly viral respiratory infections today. Doctors worry asthmatics are at a higher risk of contracting this disease and experiencing more severe symptoms, including hospitalization. While this projection is not conclusive, it’s something asthma sufferers should keep in mind.
To avoid contracting the virus, asthmatics should follow the guidelines set out by the CDC, and follow the asthma action plan set up by their doctor to manage symptoms and lower the chance of contracting COVID-19.
Many experts also recommend the following:
- Continue the controller medications prescribed by your healthcare provider. Stopping these can increase your risk of asthma exacerbation.
- Maintain a social distance anytime you leave your home.
- Wear a protective face cover in public.
- Practice regular hand-washing.
- Avoid those who exhibit signs of COVID-19 or any other illness.
- Certain chemicals and disinfectants may trigger asthma symptoms, so when cleaning, it’s important to open windows, run fans, and wear gloves and a mask when using these products.
Asthma is not a curable condition, but symptoms can be managed, and sufferers can lead normal, active lives. Generally, asthma is “treated” through a combination of bronchodilators, other preventative medications (e.g. allergy pills and nasal sprays), and lifestyle changes, like diet and controlled exercise.
There are two types of bronchodilators: fast-acting and long-term. Both work through inhalation, relaxing the muscles, and opening the airways to allow more airflow. Preventative medicines are generally antihistamines like Singulair (aka Montelukast), Theophylline (prevents nighttime wheezing), or nasal sprays. The goal of these medications is to control symptoms and attacks and allow asthmatics to lead a normal life. Another way to help manage your asthma is through diet and exercise. Reducing your weight allows your body to work more efficiently and makes breathing easier. Your doctor can help you generate a health program that best fits your lifestyle.
Have More Questions Regarding Your Health?
At Gwinnett Pulmonary & Sleep, we are here for you! Our experienced physicians can answer any questions you may have regarding asthma and provide a number of services, including Feno Asthma Testing. We will work with you to develop an asthma action plan to help monitor and manage your symptoms. Interested in learning more? Visit our site for information regarding our practice, and contact us to schedule an appointment.