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Covid-19 has come across as an unprecedented global pandemic which has already claimed more than 200,000 lives and infected millions of others. The disease has spread to about 200 countries across the planet and the impact on the physical and social world is probably unmatched in history as far as the spread is concerned. While anyone may be at risk of contracting the infection, there are certain categories which have been classified as co-morbid or high risk. These primarily include heart patients, diabetics and those suffering from age-related ailments as well as weak immunity. Today, on the occasion of World Asthma Day, or expert reveals how COVID-19 C can affect asthma patients.
The pandemic has created a lot of fear among asthma patients with the perception that they are more vulnerable to the virus and an infection can cause severe complications for them. However, it is important to understand that Covid-19 is a novel coronavirus and the scientific community is still learning about how it spreads and what problems it can cause. This is an evolving pandemic and, with time, new information and data might give us a better understanding of the situation.
There are various seasonal strains of the coronavirus family that can escalate asthma symptoms. As of now, SARS-CoV-2 or the novel coronavirus has not caused any such exacerbations. Irrespective of that, the best advice for asthma patients is to manage their condition and take preventive measures. This can help in preparing their system to deal with any viral infection or allergen, which could otherwise lead to an asthma attack. Covid-19 or SARS-CoV-2 causes respiratory problems such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Thus, patients of chronic respiratory problems, such as asthma, will be at higher risk of the infection and its severe conditions.
However, the patient fatality data given by The New York Times reveals that asthma was not among the top ten comorbid conditions related to the pandemic. Among such diseases, COPD is in the seventh place, and that might be due to the age and reduced immunity factors suffered by the elderly population. However, there is not enough data on chronic respiratory diseases or their treatment increasing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. With the rise in number of cases, the data and its outcomes are rapidly changing, and we might see a change of scenario down the line.
Various reports say that steroids are potentially harmful in Covid-19 cases and a lot of people worry about what can be done by those asthma patients who take these as controller medication (either inhaled or oral). However, it is imperative to take the controller medications without any break given that their purpose is to help asthma patients keep their condition under control. This management of one's asthmatic condition becomes even more important at a time like this when there is a global pandemic wreaking havoc with respiratory systems.
In case a patient stops taking the controller medication, he/she will be more at risk of developing severe asthma conditions especially now when there is also a seasonal shift. In case of a severe asthma attack, a patient might require hospital visit and admission to the emergency department or intensive care unit. These are places where there is likely to be a higher risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Hence, by continuing to control asthma, patients can reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection.
Apart from this, one must follow the WHO guidelines and protocols related to social distancing, personal hygiene and sanitation. These are the same as for any other healthy person. Avoiding public transport, non-essential movement or visit to public places, and observing 6 feet plus of distance from others are some things everyone must follow irrespective of any health conditions. Since Covid-19 is presently without any vaccine or cure, prevention is still better than cure.
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