By Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with moderate to severe asthma may be at a greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19. People with asthma who contract the virus are more likely to be hospitalized, as COVID-19 can exacerbate asthma. The American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC) has provided several steps to reduce your risk from an asthma attack caused by a viral illness:
- Take daily controller medications.
- Make sure to have an adequate supply of asthma medication on hand.
- Take inhaled corticosteroid medications, which may decrease susceptibility to infection.
- Call your health care provider — like a nurse practitioner — if the quick reliever does not resolve your asthma symptoms.
The CDC recommends taking these steps to control your asthma during the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic:
Follow your asthma action plan. Everyone who has been diagnosed with asthma needs their own personalized action plan. Work with your health care provider to create a plan that works for you and is tailored to your individual needs and risks.
Avoid asthma triggers. It is important to know what triggers your asthma symptoms. Common triggers include tobacco smoke, dust mites, outdoor pollutants, pets and mold. Review this complete list of common triggers.
Continue taking your medications. It is critical that you continue taking your medications to keep your asthma under control during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes any inhalers that contain steroids. Make sure you know how to use your inhaler.
Create an emergency supply of medication. Talk to your health care provider about creating an at-home emergency supply of your asthma medications, including inhalers. Ensure you have a 30-day supply of non-prescription medications on hand.
Disinfecting your home and workplace regularly helps to limit the spread of COVID-19, but disinfectants such as bleach and cleaning sprays can exacerbate asthma symptoms. Here are some of the CDC’s tips to avoid triggering an asthma attack while disinfecting to prevent COVID-19 spread:
- Whenever possible, have an adult without asthma clean and disinfect surfaces for you to prevent exposure to chemicals that can trigger an attack.
- Stay in a separate room immediately after disinfectants are used.
- Use only the necessary cleaning products. Surfaces that are rarely touched or used can often be cleaned with warm water and soap.
- Make a list of health care facilities near you that provide nebulizer or other asthma treatments in case you experience an asthma attack while disinfecting
- Choose disinfectants that are less likely to cause an asthma attack from the Environmental Protection Agency’s approved list. The types of disinfectants to look for are ones containing hydrogen peroxide or ethanol. Avoid products with peroxyacetic acid or peracetic acid.
- Do not use in a confined space disinfectants that can trigger an asthma attack.
If at any time during the COVID-19 pandemic you sense an asthma trigger or need medical care, contact your health care provider.