Coronavirus Infection Risk in Asthma Patients

Sana Masroor   by Sana Masroor, M.S., Biochemistry    Last updated on March 30, 2020,

Coronavirus infection (COVID-19), which is a deadly infectious disease, is caused by novel coronavirus 2019. People with coronavirus infection generally experience mild to moderate respiratory illness like shortness of breath, fever, sore throat and cough.

Coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets from a coronavirus infected person. Recent studies have proved that coronavirus can be stable in aerosol, plastic and stainless steel for some time. There is much more information we need to know about coronavirus yet. Some people may be at higher risk than other for getting the infection.

How Does Coronavirus Affect Asthma Patients?

People of any age who are having long-term medical conditions including people with cardiac and respiratory conditions like asthma are at higher risk of coronavirus infection.

According to a medical professional from The American Lung Association, there is very limited information about the coronavirus infections and asthma. Both SARS and MERS caused more severe problems in patients suffering from lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. It can be expected that coronavirus infection may lead to more severe asthma symptoms, as shortness of breath is one of the symptom of this infection.

Asthma patients are thought to be more vulnerable for coronavirus infection. However, there is no strong evidence which could suggest the exact affect of coronavirus on asthma patients.

How Can Asthma Patients Manage to Protect Themselves From Coronavirus Infection?

Asthma patients should consider an appropriate action plan, which should include the following:

  • Asthma patients should carry their preventer inhaler with themselves all the time. This helps reduce the risk of an asthma attack possibly triggered by coronavirus.
  • Reliever inhaler should be carried by asthma patients, in case they feel asthma symptoms flaring up. This will give them quick relief.
  • People should start maintaining a peak flow diary (noting how quickly you can blow air in an out), if you have a peak flow meter. If they don’t have a peak flow meter, they should buy it from a pharmacist, as it can be a good way of tracking asthma and helping differentiate between asthma symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms.
  • If asthma patients feel symptoms like flu, cold, or any other respiratory infection, consult a doctor immediately.
  • If the person smokes, it’s very important to quit smoking now as smoking increases the risk of COVID-19 infection.

 

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Along with following these steps, patients should also follow basic hygiene as well such as:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based sanitizer if water is unavailable.
  • Don’t touch eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay away from people who are sick. Avoid sharing food, utensils and clothes.
  • Asthma patients can take their usual medicines to control asthma.

What Should Asthma Patients Do if They Develop Coronavirus Symptoms?

The steps which should be taken by asthma patients include:

  • Asthma patients should stay at home for 7 days if they live on alone, or 14 days if they live with others. Everyone in the home will need to stay in the house for 14 days.
  • They should contact doctors via call to tell them you are staying at home.
  • Ask the doctors for emergency care.
  • They should tell the health professionals that they are suffering from asthma also so that they can treat the patient well considering their previous health problem as well.
  • If you are having asthma cough and are not sure whether the cough is a symptom of COVID-19 or related to the asthma, consult your doctor immediately. Read about COVID-19 cough and cold.
  • Patient should follow asthma action plan to manage their asthma symptoms as discussed above.
  • Asthma patients can continue taking all the usual asthma medicines as normal.

Frequently Asked Questions

When the coronavirus enters inside the body, it begins infecting epithelial cells of the lungs lining. A spike protein on the receptors of the virus can attach to the host cell’s receptors and penetrate inside the cell. Inside the host cell, the virus begins to multiply until it kills the cell.

This process initially takes place in the upper respiratory tract, which includes the nose, mouth and bronchi.

The patient starts experiencing symptoms such as dry cough, shortness of breath, fever, headache and muscle pain and tiredness.

Yes, coronavirus patients may have digestive problems which include diarrhea and vomiting. According to a study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, out of 204 patients in China who had coronavirus infection, 48.5 % of the patients had initially checked in to the hospital with a digestive issue, not respiratory problems. The most common digestive problem among the patients was appetite loss, followed by diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

Yes, coronavirus can mutate. The study conducted by researchers in China which was published in National Science Journal has reported that coronavirus can mutate and it has different strains.  They analyzed the coronavirus genome which was taken from 103 patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2), in Wuhan, China (the epicenter of the coronavirus  outbreak). The team identified differences in the genomes, which they said could be featured into two "strains" of the coronavirus: the "L" type and the "S" type.

Sana Masroor

Sana Masroor is a biochemist and has pursued her Master’s degree in biochemistry from Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi.  She has worked as a Research Trainee in the Special Center for Molecular Medicine, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.


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