Asthma and the Coronavirus

I have had several patients with asthma ask me about their risk for severe Coronavirus infection.  When the Coronavirus was first recognized as a domestic problem, moderate to severe asthma was listed as a risk factor for having a bad case of Covid-19.  However, as more data became available about Asthmatics who had experienced Covid-19, it became apparent that asthma was not as big a risk as first thought.

Currently, the CDC lists moderate to severe asthma as a possible risk for severe illness from the virus that causes Covid-19.  Note that mild asthma was never considered to be a significant risk.

What Asthma Patients Need to Know

What I worry about in my asthma patients is that the Coronavirus infections could trigger severe asthma (and not the other way around).  Winter tends to be the worst time of year for almost all adults with asthma, and for most children.  Cold, dry air; poor air quality; and especially viral infections tend to trigger significant asthma exacerbations.  Of the three, viral infections tend to be the worst.  I would absolutely expect a Coronavirus infection to be a significant trigger for asthma.

What can you do to protect yourself this winter?

Here are five things that Asthmatics can do this winter to protect themselves this winter:

  1. Make sure you are taking your preventive asthma medications.  Many with asthma can decrease the dose, or even stop meds in the summer.  Now is not the time to see how well you do on a lower than normal dose of ‘preventer’ meds.
  2. If you have needed oral steroids (i.e. prednisone or Medrol) in the past year or two for asthma, make sure you have some on hand now. Just in case.
  3. Wear a mask and do the physical distancing that we have all heard about over and over. It really does make a difference.  I hate wearing masks as much as the next person – but I am convinced that even though they are not perfect in preventing disease, they do make a difference.
  4. Get your influenza vaccine. (I know – that won’t help with the Coronavirus) but…if you get influenza and you have asthma, you are probably going to have a tough time of it.  Get the vaccine!
  5. Get the Coronavirus vaccine when it is finally available. I have had numerous people ask if I am going to get the Covid-19 vaccine: YES, YES, YES!  If I could be the first one in the country to get it – I wouldn’t hesitate.  It will not be 100% effective.  It may cause RARE side effects (other than a sore arm for a few days), but the expected benefits will be 10,000 times more than the expected side effects.  Get the vaccine!

I’m looking forward to the time when we can throw away our masks, shake hands, and go to football games in person.  Let’s hope that it is sooner, rather than later.

Duane J. Harris, MD
Intermountain Allergy & Asthma of Draper

New to Intermountain Allergy and Asthma of Draper?

If you suffer from allergies or asthma, now is a great time to consider starting professional treatment. Dr. Harris accepts new patients of all ages and accepts most insurance plans.  If you have questions about insurance coverage, please contact us at (801) 553-1900 and we will be happy to assist you. If you don’t have health insurance, we offer no interest monthly payment options. It is Dr. Harris’ goal to provide the best medical treatment while working with patients to keep costs and payments reasonable.

Thank you for allowing Dr. Harris and his staff at Intermountain Allergy and Asthma of Draper to be part of your health care team – we look forward to seeing you!