Asthma and COVID

Provided by: Michael Goodman, MD (Allergist/Immunologist)

A frequent question that we receive from our patients with asthma is: Am I at increased risk from COVID due to my asthma? The CDC states that “having moderate-to-severe asthma might increase your risk for severe illness from COVID-19.” Intuitively one would think that since both COVID and asthma are respiratory disorders that people with asthma would be at increased risk for a more severe course should they become infected. We also know that asthmatic patients often have a more severe course when infected with influenza, also a respiratory virus.

However, most COVID studies have NOT found asthmatic patients to be at increased risk of severe disease when infected with COVID-19. Also, asthmatic patients appear to have similar COVID infection rates as the general population. There have been a few studies that seemed to show that nonallergic asthma was a risk factor to become infected and to have a more severe course, but these studies had certain limitations that may have skewed their outcomes, such as potentially misclassifying some patients with COPD as asthmatic, or not correctly accounting for other medical conditions. Overall, while the research is ongoing, asthma does not appear to be a risk factor at this time.

There are some things that asthma patients should keep in mind regarding COVID. For example, many cleaning supplies can trigger asthma attacks in asthma patients. Cleaning products should be used according to their directions, not mixed with other products, and used with ample ventilation where possible. Another aspect to consider is that nebulizers generate aerosolized particles and may potentially increase the spread of COVID if used by an infected patient. MDI “puffer” devices are preferred when administering medications around other people. During the pandemic, asthma patients should be even more diligent about ensuring that they are using their asthma medications as instructed and not missing scheduled doses. There is no evidence that asthma medications increase your risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and having control of your breathing to begin with will hopefully help you better cope with COVID-19 should you become infected.

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