What Coronavirus Means for Asthmatics
As a lifelong asthma sufferer, I immediately grew concerned about how the coronavirus might affect my asthma.
Asthmatics contend with the flu, seasonal allergies, and other triggers daily. In fact, our bodies require us to be careful, and tactical about our health…moreso than most.
It’s no secret to a severe asthmatic that we have more to be concerned with than those without lung disease…the same flu virus may be a mere nuisance to someone with healthy lungs, but to an asthmatic, it could be lethal.
So, when the coronavirus news broke, that same familiar asthma-flare up fear struck me, and I’m sure you felt it too, my fellow asthmatics.
Compromised Immune Systems and Pre-Existing Conditions
We hear these terms often, and we know that they include us, but we face different fears and lumping us into the at-risk groups doesn’t seem fair.
So this article is for you, asthmatics who are worried about the coronavirus…I’m talking directly to you…
Asthmatics and the Coronavirus (are we at risk)?
Should asthmatics worry about the coronavirus?
In simple terms, yes, of course, because we monitor and protect our lungs from all sorts of viruses so it stands to reason we should do the same for the pandemic, more, in fact.
You see, this virus is more alarming for us because it’s new, there’s no immunity, vaccines, and people are dying…and most importantly our lungs react differently than a healthy person’s lungs.
Sorry lovely, our lungs aren’t healthy, and I know it hurts and it’s a burden, but you aren’t alone.
Take heart, because having asthma does not put us at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus, but it may make recovery more difficult.
Think about what happens when you get the flu, an upper respiratory infection…does your asthma trigger?
Do you usually need steroids and nebulizer treatments to get through the virus?
The coronavirus may be the same situation, and if you’re elderly with asthma, you may have more fighting to do…but you have the fight in you to win.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.”
So yes, we do need to take extra precautions as asthmatics combating the coronavirus.
How Asthmatics Can Combat Coronavirus
I want to implore you, fellow asthmatics, to protect your lungs as fiercely as you do during flu season…times ten.
There are just too many unknowns surrounding the coronavirus and asthma. For one, we know that it can cause a dry cough. At first, this was relieving to me, but then I wondered how our inhalers and nebulizers would assist with a dry cough, aside from relieving inflammation.
Will we need steroids? Will they be available?
Here’s what we can do to protect ourselves and be ready for the coronavirus as asthmatics:
1. Understand the Symptoms of Coronavirus
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation has a fantastic chart to help you understand some of the differences between the symptoms of the coronavirus, cold, flu, and seasonal allergies. Become familiar with the differences so you can act quickly if you fall ill.
2. Prevent Contraction of the Coronavirus
My favorite places to check for coronavirus updates are The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and The World Health Organization (WHO). These are the most reliable places to get the most recent recommendations regarding travel, group gatherings, vaccine development, and other important information every asthmatic should know about the coronavirus.
Now, these are the no brainers….you’ve got this, lovely:
- Always carry your asthma medication with you, wherever you go
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water…and sing happy birthday (twice) as you’re washing to ensure you’ve washed long enough
- While out of the house (should you be?) do not touch your face…at all.
- Carry hand sanitizer with you for emergency cleansing (rub it in and don’t let it air dry for maximum effectiveness)
- Avoid groups of people (if you can, stay in the house…your safe zone)
- Or spend time outdoors where there are very few people
- If you must be near others during the pandemic, keep your distance, and don’t shake hands
- Avoid triggering your asthma due to known triggers (remember, when your asthma flares up, your immune system drops)
- Take vitamins to boost your immune system so your body has the strength to fight illness
- Wear a mask if you must enter a group setting or set out to retrieve essentials. ( this one’s actually pretty cute) And wear it proudly, these are your lungs…and your life.
Most importantly, do not feel embarrassed to say no to gatherings, or express concern about the coronavirus. You have permission to tell people they cannot come over or you can’t attend an outing for now. Unfortuneately, asthma has always been an invisible disease. People cannot often see asthma, and it’s best to be at peace with it and show no shame when protecting yourself.
3. Maintain and Level-Up Your Asthma Care Plan
Keep taking your asthma medications as usual, but add journaling to your routine so you can keep track of changes in your health. A bullet journal is fantastic for keeping track of your peak flow meter reading.
Asthma journals are the perfect way to stay in tune with your asthma and update your doctor on your symptoms if you fall ill.
And if you feel any symptoms, at all, deploy your asthma symptom-spidey-senses…you know your body best, and act accordingly.
4. Refill Your Asthma Prescriptions and OTC Medications
By now, you’ve seen the mass chaos that has spread amongst retail locations. (I know the last thing asthmatics are worried about is toilet paper, right?) Ok, maybe I’m a little worried.
But in all seriousness, do what you can to ensure that you have your basic needs met and you’ve got plenty of asthma medication available during the coronavirus pandemic.
If possible, request additional inhalers from your doctor and have new prescriptions delivered to your home to avoid the pharmacy.
What to Do if You Have Asthma and Coronavirus Symptoms
If you experience symptoms that lead you to believe you may have contracted coronavirus, call your doctor to discuss your symptoms and follow their advice.
If you’re having trouble breathing or are having an asthma attack, call 911 immediately.
Your Mental Health During the Coronavirus
Many people are concerned about the coronavirus and what they can do to keep themselves healthy, but you and I both know that there’s an extra layer of fear for asthmatics.
But we aren’t alone.
Talk with Family and Friends
Your concerns over your asthma and the coronavirus are warranted. If you live with family or friends, create a plan for hygiene, and who is, or is not, allowed inside your home during this time.
Join the Lovely Lungs Community
This is a brand new community, and I’m opening it up for severe asthmatics to talk about the coronavirus and share tips on staying healthy.
It is a non-alarmist, anti-bullying, group for asthmatics to come together and support each other. While friends and family can be empathetic, only asthmatics can understand our fears and anxieties…so let’s connect and be together through the pandemic and beyond.
Remember, even though we may feel as though we don’t have control over our asthma or the coronavirus, there are things we do have control over:
Our asthma care plan, activities, and decisions.
We’ve got this.
Originally published at https://www.lovelylungs.com on March 17, 2020.