It is estimated that there are about 20 million asthma patients in India, and this number has been steadily increasing since the COVID-19 pandemic. We all know that asthma is not a curable disease, but it can be managed effectively when the triggers are reduced, and appropriate medical help is provided during or immediately after an attack. However, it is more difficult than ever to find the right kind of help in the times of COVID.
covid-19 and asthma
The good news is that studies and systematic reviews to date have shown no signs of an increased risk of severe COVID-19 in people with well-controlled, mild to moderate asthma. Nor are such individuals at higher risk of Covid-related deaths. However, studies do not show such encouraging results for all asthma patients.
Asthma patients or patients with severe asthma who were on oral steroids before developing COVID-19 are at higher risk of serious infections, according to a study published in the journal Medicines.
Nature Journal in 2020.
Asmita Mehta, Professor and Head, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Amrita Hospital Kochi.
managing asthma with covid
A good inhaler can be life-saving if the patient’s SPO2 is above 93. If SPO2 worsens below this, and one develops life-threatening asthma symptoms, it is recommended that, if necessary, use of a mouthpiece or mask attached to a spacer. Improved inhaler technology.
Controller and reliever medication also needs to be increased when asthma worsens. Taking a short course of OCS if appropriate for the exacerbation of severe asthma according to the advice of your health care provider. It is important to avoid nebulizers where possible to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to healthcare professionals and other patients/family members.
Diet and lifestyle for asthma patients during the pandemic
Eating healthy and maintaining a certain weight is important as studies have shown that overweight individuals have a higher risk of both asthma and covid. In fact, it is believed that losing even a small amount of weight can be helpful.
Vegetables and fruits provide nutrition to our body, which can prevent many diseases. Vegetables are a good source of antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, which may help reduce inflammation and irritation (inflammation) of the lungs caused by cell-damaging chemicals known as free radicals. It is advisable to avoid the food to which one is allergic as allergic food reactions can lead to asthma symptoms.
Take vitamin D. Vitamin D levels may be low in people with more severe asthma. Milk, eggs and fish such as salmon contain vitamin D. Even spending a few minutes outside in the sun can increase vitamin D levels.
Ultimately it is up to us what we choose to eat. Making informed choices about what foods to eat and which foods to avoid will not cure asthma. But eating a balanced diet and avoiding known trigger foods can improve your symptoms and your overall health.
asthma and covid vaccine
In general, patients with asthma are not allergic to vaccines. People with allergies to food, insect venom or other drugs can also safely receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
As always, patients should speak to their healthcare provider if they have concerns. It is also advised to be monitored for 15-30 minutes after COVID-19 vaccination to ensure that there are no adverse reactions following the jab. Based on the risks and benefits, and in conjunction with the above precautions, COVID-19 vaccination (including booster shots, if available) is recommended for people with asthma.
(This article is authored by Dr. Asmita Mehta, Professor and Head, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Amrita Hospital Kochi.)