Asthma and Covid-19: Things to Know on this World Asthma Day

Asthma and COVID-19: What Patients Need to Know
05.May.2021

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease. During an asthma attack, the airway swells produce extra mucus, and becomes narrow, thus obstructing the airflow. Breathing difficulties, Wheezing, Breathlessness, Chest Tightness, and Coughing occur in people suffering from asthma. An asthma attack can be mild, moderate, or severe. Patients with mild asthma experience symptoms two days per week. Similarly patients with moderate asthma experience symptoms every day and at least one night a week. Severe asthmatic patients experience symptoms daily several times, both during the day and night.

World Asthma day is celebrated every year on 5th May all around the world. It is organized by Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), a World Health Organization collaborative organization founded in 1993. Asthma is reported to be one of the most occurring global lung diseases; it is considered utterly essential to raise awareness about it throughout the world.

World Asthma Day is celebrated to spread awareness and educate people on the control and treatment of asthma. Globally 272 million people of all ages currently have asthma, and awareness is essential to help them live a normal life.

Symptoms and Causes of Asthma

The signs and symptoms of Asthma include:

  • Dyspnea ( breathlessness).
  • Felling of tightness in the chest.
  • Wheezing ( when the patient exhales it gives a whistling sound).
  • Inadequate sleep at night due to coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness.

Asthma is divided into three categories depending on the cause as follows:

1. Exercise-Induced Asthma

This type of asthma occurs in patients when the air is cold and dry. In exercise-induced asthma, the airways in the lungs get narrowed due to strenuous exercise. Medically it is known as Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.

2. Occupational Asthma

Asthma caused by inhalation of dust, gases, chemical fumes, and other irritational substances is called Occupational Asthma.

3. Allergy Induced Asthma

Asthma triggered by dust, mold, pollen, spores, skin particles, dog hair, and saliva is called Allergy induced Asthma.

Some Common Asthma Triggers

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Passive smoking
  • Pests like cockroaches
  • Dust Mites
  • Air pollution
  • Mold
  • Use of Disinfectants
  • Chemicals used in paint colors
  • Flu and Colds

World Asthma Day 2021

This year’s World Asthma Day theme is “Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions”. It is centered on breaking the myths around asthma disease. This theme aims to call attention to people’s misconceptions about asthma and life with it. People will be introduced to a new outlook of life with asthma and help them manage their condition with proper treatments.

Common Myths about Asthma

  1. Asthma happens only in children, and gradually with age, people get a cure for the disease.

    Fact- Asthma can occur at any age and it cannot be completely cured.

  2. Asthma is an infectious disease.

    Fact- Asthma is not an infectious disease, but viral infections can trigger asthma attacks. However, allergic asthma is more common than an infectious asthma attack

  3. Asthma patients should not exercise.

    Fact- Asthma patients can live a normal life once the symptoms are under control. They can exercise and can play any sport.

  4. Asthma can only be cured with a high dose of steroids.

    Fact- Asthma is often reported to be treated with even a small dose of steroids.

Covid-19 and Asthma

The coronavirus disease, widely known as covid-19, is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-Cov-2 virus. The disease has affected people around the globe indiscriminately. The infection has caused high mortality rates worldwide and is declared a global public health issue by the World Health Organization (WHO). The disease is often associated with chronic medical conditions like diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, and high blood pressure. However, the relation with asthma is not very evident in people with reported cases.

According to a study published in the European Respiratory Journal 2021, the frequency of SARS-CoV-2 infection in asthma patients is reported to be less. Patients from the study population, who suffered from Asthma as well as from COVID-19, were generally older, female, smoked more frequently, and had a higher prevalence of hypertension, dyslipidaemias, diabetes, and obesity. Thus it was concluded in the test that the patients who had asthma and reported with covid-19were generally older and at increased risk due to comorbidity-related factors. Deaths due to covid in asthma patients were reported to less than expected in that study. Therefore, we can conclude that fatalities due to covid-19 in asthma patients are strikingly low.

Despite the fewer evidence of the death of asthma patients due to covid, the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) promotes people to continue with their asthma medication with proper directives from the doctor. Patients should keep the salbutamol inhaler (MDI) with them to suppress sudden asthma attacks. GINA also advises patients to stay away from dust, smoke, pollen, and molds. They also urge them to pay extra care to hygiene protocols, maintain social distancing, avoid large crowd gatherings, wear double-layered masks, get as much fresh air as possible, and avoid unnecessary travel during the pandemic. Asthmatic patients should refrain from Pulmonary function tests (PFT) or PEAK Flow testing unless extremely urgent.

Conclusion

Asthma is a non-infectious chronic disease that affects the respiratory system. It is one of the most common types of chronic illness occurring in people of all ages. World asthma day is celebrated to educate people about the treatments of asthma and encourage people to live a normal healthy life. However, asthma cannot be cured completely, it can only be treated. Reported cases do not show a large number of covid cases in asthma patients. Nevertheless, precautions should be practiced, and special care should be taken.

References

  1. WORLD ASTHMA DAY 2021. Accessed at https://ginasthma.org/wad/
  2. Tips for asthma patient in the era of covid-19 pandemic. Accessed at https://www.narayanahealth.org/blog/tips-for-asthma-patient-in-the-era-of-covid-19-pandemic/
  3. Symptoms and Causes of Asthma. Accessed at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/symptoms-causes/syc-20369653
  4. Izquierdo JL, Almonacid C, González Y, Del Rio-Bermudez C, Ancochea J, Cárdenas R, Lumbreras S, Soriano JB. The impact of COVID-19 on patients with asthma. EurRespir J. 2021 Mar 4;57(3):2003142. doi: 10.1183/13993003.03142-2020. PMID: 33154029; PMCID: PMC7651839.

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