Someone Grab Me My Inhaler: Managing Asthma during COVID-19

Similar to those who have allergies, people with asthma often experience worsened symptoms as the spring season comes, bringing warmer weather and an increased presence of allergens.

This spring season, a new set of challenges faces the asthmatic community—COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that people with asthma may be at a higher risk of getting “very sick” from contracting COVID-19.

“As COVID-19 affects the respiratory tract—your nose, throat and lungs—it increases the risk of people with asthma having an asthma attack,” said Sarah Davis, M.D., a board-certified Primary Care physician with Inspira Medical Group. “It can also lead to pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).”

Here are two key steps that people with asthma should take to best prepare themselves for the spring season, as well as COVID-19, according to Davis.

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Know Your Triggers and Symptoms

Many of the common triggers of allergies, items like pollen, dust and pet dander, are also triggers for asthma. What triggers asthma attacks varies from person to person, as do the symptoms that come as a part of the attacks.

“For many people with asthma, their triggers are consistent for the duration of their life, but the symptoms can change frequently,” said Davis. “An allergist can conduct tests to determine specific triggers, which can be helpful in knowing what to avoid.”

Depending on the individual, symptoms of an asthma attack can present in a variety of ways. Some of the most common include shortness of breath, intense, sudden chest pain and trouble sleeping due to an inability to catch your breath. In a time where COVID-19 is presenting new challenges on a daily basis, it’s more important than ever to have a clear handle on what can irritate your asthma.

Develop an Asthma Action Plan

While this may sound like a daunting task, an asthma action plan is more effective if developed and revised before it has to be used. An asthma action plan consists of the following steps:
  • Have a reserve of medication: Ask your doctor to issue refills for any asthma medications that you take regularly to minimize the number of times you need to leave the house and reduce the risk of running out of medication.
  • Know how to use your inhaler: In an emergency, an inhaler is often a lifesaving device. Make sure that you and the people around you know how to use it properly.
  • List your triggers: By listing your asthma triggers, and sharing this list with those you live with, you can ensure that items that can cause an asthma attack aren’t brought into the house.
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