Asthmatics are managing their respiratory illness in the Covid-19 era

Asthmatic child receives treatment
Asthmatic child receives treatment (Photo credit: Cottonbro)

People with the respiratory illness, asthma, have been proactive in preventing asthmatic attacks and contracting the COVID-19 disease, by taking their medications and adhering to the COVID-19 protocols.

Respiratory illnesses or “Chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs) are diseases of the airways and other structures of the lung. Some of the most common are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, occupational lung diseases and pulmonary hypertension,” says the World Health Organization (WHO).

One of the most pervasive CRDs is asthma. Dr Rudolph Drakes from the Cornwall Regional Hospital describes asthma as “a hyperactive airway disease that reduces oxygenation of the lungs and the tissues of the body”. He added that, “There are two types of asthma, allergic and non-allergic and the causes of asthma are allergy and exercise-induced with associated anxiety”.

The symptoms of asthma include, wheezing, coughing, and breathing difficulties, which are synonymous with those of the COVID-19 disease and can pose a challenge in differentiating the diseases.

According to the Pan-American Health Organization, (PAHO), “people could concurrently have COVID-19 and an asthma exacerbation triggered by COVID-19.” Thus, asthmatics are taking precautionary measures to control their asthma, like being consistent with their medications and avoiding their triggers, especially because asthma is a respiratory illness.

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“I take two medications, one is a preventer and the other a reliever,” explains 30-year-old, asthmatic, Karim Heath. While, 33-year-old asthmatic, Sherine Thompson says, “my asthma is triggered by being too cold or hot and when my sinus drains, I use two pumps, Ventolin and the inhaler.” Heath and Thompson suffer from mild and severe asthma, respectively.

According to Drakes, the types of medications used to control asthma are “bronchodilators, steroids and mast cell stabilizers.”

These medications are inhalers, “bronchodilators (such as salbutamol), that open the air passages and relieve symptoms; and steroids (such as beclomethasone), that reduce inflammation in the air passages. This improves asthma symptoms and reduces the risk of severe asthma attacks and death,” says WHO.

Furthermore, PAHO reports, People with asthma or recurrent airways disease benefit greatly from bronchodilators.

Another mild asthmatic patient, Jared Chambers says, “I currently use two, these are asthma pumps used to help support my breathing”. To decrease the risk of contracting the COVID-19 disease, Thompson wears her mask and observes social distancing; Chambers, keeps sanitized, observes social distancing and is fully vaccinated while Heath, tries not to stress.

Asthmatic attacks can become fatal quickly. “When I have an attack, I cannot walk or talk because it feels like I only have just a little breath to keep me,” states Thompson.

It is “very likely with a severe attack as it can cause starvation of tissues of oxygen, as it only takes oxygen decreased levels below normal for four minutes to become brain dead,” notes Drakes. Some useful tips to control asthma are to, “avoid allergens, take your medications, get treated for respiratory tract infections, have nebulizers, spacers and oxygen at home if possible,” he added.


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