Should asthma patients stop taking steroid inhalers during COVID-19 crisis? A pulmonologist clarifies

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Should asthma patients stop taking steroid inhalers during COVID-19 crisis? A pulmonologist clarifies

On the occasion of World Asthma Day, Times Now Digital talked to a pulmonologist to find out whether the coronavirus disease poses a higher risk for people with asthma.

On the occasion of World Asthma Day, Times Now Digital talked to a pulmonologist to find out whether the coronavirus disease poses a higher risk for people with asthma.

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Experts say people with moderate to severe asthma may be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus infection
  • Is coronavirus infection more dangerous for people with asthma?
  • Here's what asthmatics need to know about the COVID-19 caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus

New Delhi: All of us are now staying at home and taking precautions against novel coronavirus infection. If you have asthma or a lung disease, you may have been advised to be extra cautious and follow your treatment plan to manage your symptoms and protect yourself against COVID-19. Health experts have warned that infection with coronavirus can result in an asthma attack or other serious lung condition for asthmatics. On World Asthma Day (May 5), we spoke to a pulmonologist to find out whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus poses a higher risk for people with asthma.

In an Exclusive Interview with Times Now Digital, Dr Pavan Yadav, Consultant, Interventional Pulmonology, Aster RV Hospital, Bangalore, stressed why asthmatics must continue with their preventive inhalers durign the pandemic.

Does asthma really increase the risk of contracting COVID-19?

Dr Pavan Yadav: Currently there is no evidence to say that asthmatics have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 infection. Some early reports and the CDC stated that people with moderate to severe asthma may have higher risk of becoming very sick if they contract the virus.

There have been a number of reports stating that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids may exacerbate symptoms in COVID-19 patients. Should asthmatics discontinue taking their controller steroid medication (inhaled or oral) if they get COVID-19?

Dr Pavan Yadav: For patients who are on controller medications, including inhaled or oral corticosteroid, it is ideal to continue with their medications to keep asthma under control. Reducing these medications may push them into acute worsening of symptoms called ‘asthma exacerbations’. Stoping a controller medication may also lead to admission in the hospital, which in turn could put them at an increased risk of contracting the virus. With respect to NSAIDs, we don’t have enough data at the moment to say if they make COVID-19 symptoms worse. If you are in doubt, taking paracetamol may be the safer choice for fever.

What is the best thing that a person with asthma can do to keep their asthma under control in the current pandemic?

Dr Pavan Yadav: Continue your medications regularly to keep asthma under the best possible control so that if there is any exposure to an allergen or an infection, then your lungs are in a better position to deal with it.

If you develop any symptoms like fever, cough, breathlessness, body aches, etc., inform your doctors early. Avoid exposure to asthma triggers including dust, smoke, pollen, etc. Strong emotions can induce asthma attacks. So, learn to cope with anxiety and stress in these days of uncertainties. Practice social distancing, good hand hygiene and follow other measures issued by the government.

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