COVID-19 does not discriminate, it could affect anyone, but we are aware that it may cause more serious complications for those who have existing, underlying health conditions.
One of these is asthma, a condition that affects some 235 million people around the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
There has been little research into the effects of COVID-19 on people with asthma. One small study of 142 people suggested it has no effect on asthma. However, we are aware from other coronaviruses like the common cold, that they can trigger asthma flare-ups and attacks.
Therefore, until further research is available, asthma is considered a significant underlying health condition.
How severe can asthma be?
The severity of asthma and, therefore the everyday treatment and prognosis regarding coronavirus, can vary. If you have mild to moderate asthma, you would be considered part of the “at-risk” group of people thought more likely to suffer complications from the virus. But if your asthma is severe, you would be in the “extremely vulnerable” group.
If you fall within this extremely vulnerable group, it is assumed that your asthma is more “brittle” (difficult to control) and you may, therefore, be more likely to suffer from an asthma flare-up or an asthma attack should you be exposed to the virus.
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) defines those suffering from severe asthma as adults or children who are taking:
- Biologic therapy – injections which work by blocking the immune activity that causes inflammation of the airways in asthmatics
- Daily oral steroids
- Oral antibiotics every week
- Tiotropium – a long-lasting inhaler used in difficult or severe asthma to dilate the airways
- A combination inhaler that contains a long-acting bronchodilator at a high daily steroid dose – these are “preventer” inhalers, for example, Seretide, Symbicort, Flutiform or Fostair, and contain a high daily dose
- An inhaler with a high daily steroid as well as taking Montelukast – an oral tablet used to prevent and treat asthma