Last Updated: 15th December, 2020
COVID-19 and Respiratory Health: “Persons with medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other kinds of respiratory disease, embrace a significantly higher chance of experiencing from severe Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 disease relative to people who are healthy.”
As this news began appearing in communities, and people with pre-existing respiratory health conditions went into shock and spread wide and fast. Extremely in addition accordingly were those with respiratory problems, including Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis, as well as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
We began talking and one of the most experienced and leading pulmonologists and lung specialists in India, so this is what he comprehends to say, to ensure you get the right details about COVID-19 and respiratory health and what the impacts do seem to be. Pulmonologist answers to 10 most common questions regarding COVID-19 and Respiratory Health conditions.
Q1. Are People With Asthma/Other Respiratory Health Conditions At More Elevated Risk Of Catching COVID-19?
Answer: People with asthma do not consider a more elevated risk of acquiring Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 infection as compared to sound people. The reason being, if asthmatics follow proper treatment (which includes use of inhalers and medicines such as bronchodilators and corticosteroids), the inflammation in the airways is taken care of.
According to the Pulmonologist, those with chronic pulmonary obstructive diseases (COPD) consider a significant tendency to suffer from a severe infection, if they get infected with the coronavirus. This is because people with COPD at present have weak lungs so lower respiratory infection caused by Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 can further damage the lungs.
Other respiratory problems such as interstitial lung disease (equally known as lung fibrosis) can increase your risk of coronavirus infection. In this condition, the oxygen carrying capacity of the lung is affected which compromises the gas exchange in the lungs. As a result if a person with lung fibrosis gets infected with Novel Coronavirus, then it can lead to severe infection and may also turn lethal.
Q2. Do People With Respiratory Problems Have Poor Disease Outcomes When It Comes To Novel Coronavirus?
Answer: There are no sufficient data to satisfy this question as of now. The data on the number of deaths due to the coronavirus in India does not give any analysis on the comorbidities (if any). To obtain these details, it may take another 2-3 months.
However, if we can extrapolate the data of COPD patients who suffered from H1N1 or other viral pneumonia over the years (COVID-19 is a viral infection and may follow the same set of patterns).
Q3. Should I Stop Using The Nasal Spray (As It May Force The Virus Further Up The Nose)?
Answer: The nasal spray is recommended for asthmatics with allergic rhinitis and sinusitis and not for every individual suffering from a respiratory problem. There is no scientific evidence to prove that using a nasal spray can push up the virus deep into the respiratory tract and up the risk of infection.
Q4. Is There Any Irreversible Damage To The Lungs After Having Novel Coronavirus COVID-19?
Answer: Rightly, this is extremely premature to comment if Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 can cause long-term lung damage. It is only a week or two that the people with coronavirus infection have started recovering and discharged from hospitals.
It may require data for around 2-3 months to understand if there is any long term damage to the lungs. Moreover, it can also depend on the severity and condition of the person at the time of infection.
Q5. People With Asthma Suffer From A Cough And Difficulty In Breathing. How To Distinguish Between These Symptoms And Those Of COVID-19?
Answer: In any infection, fever is a classic symptom. So in people with asthma who suffer from a runny nose, cough or throat irritation, but no fever, it is less likely that the patient is having any infection.
Also, a headache and severe body ache are some of the typical symptoms seen in COVID-19 patients. But if you have any of these symptoms, get in touch with a doctor who may recommend a swab test based on your condition and treat accordingly.
On top of that, as most people are spending time indoors either cleaning or dusting or due to indoor pollution, there is a high chance that people with respiratory problems might have a cough or runny nose. Consequently, if a person doesn’t have body aches/headache/fever is not there, then there is no need to worry.
Q6. If I Use A Nebulizer At Home, Am I At Risk Of COVID-19 Infection (Risk Of The Virus Spreading Through The Air)?
Answer: A COPD patient taking a nebulizer at home routinely can continue nebulization. The sole care he/she needs to take is that the nebulization kit which has been used should be cleaned and replaced regularly. Ideally, the kit should be cleaned at least every week by placing it in hot water for 30 minutes and drying under the sun. Thereafter, the kit must be replaced (or disposed of) every month with a current one.
However, if a COPD patient is tested positive for COVID-19, then the precautions for using a nebulizer might differ. This is because it is believed that the use of nebulization of these people can generate more droplets which can be spread to other people. In such cases, it is recommended to use a metered-dose inhaler with a spacer where droplet generation is comparatively bare and thus, the risk of spreading the infection.
Q7. Does Anti-Allergy Medications Such As Antihistamines (Recommended In Asthmatics/Allergy) Suppress The Immune System And Up The Risk Of Viral Infection?
Answer: People with runny noses or sore throat can use anti-allergic medications as per the doctor’s prescription. There is no harm in doing so as this can only help in relieving the symptoms (and preventing worsening of the condition).
Furthermore, the use of anti-allergic medications for a week or 10 days won’t suppress the immune system and won’t be of any problem.
Q8. Should I Increase My Normal Dosage Of Medication To Secure Myself From COVID-19? Is Stocking Up Medications A Worthy Idea (If Yes For How Long)?
Answer: Not really. People with asthma or COPD who are on inhalers tend to be stable on a certain dose. Precisely because there is a scare of COVID-19, there is no need to increase the dose as doing so won’t offer any protection.
It is recommended to stock at least a month’s dose of medications (such as inhalers or any specific drugs) to be on a more cautious side. Do consult your doctor in case of change of medications or severity of symptoms for proper treatment of the condition.
Q9. I Use An Inhaler, Can It Become Infected? What Can I Cope To Prevent It? Should I Get A New Inhaler Or Thoroughly Clean My Current One?
Answer: If an asthmatic has coronavirus infection and he is using an inhaler then obviously he has to make sure that the inhaler is not shared (limited to himself only) and continue employing that till the inhaler gets over. However, he should make absolutely to dispose it off properly and buy a new inhaler.
Q10. How Different Is The Treatment For Novel Coronavirus For Asthmatics As Compared To Those Without Any Comorbid Condition?
Answer: There is no difference in the treatment of a Novel Coronavirus for people with respiratory problems and those without any comorbid condition. However, people with asthma/respiratory problems need to follow their treatment module in addition to the treatment of COVID-19.
On the other hand, unlike popular belief, there is no truth to the statement that the symptoms of Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 in people with asthma are mild as compared to the general population, which can prolong the diagnosis of the condition and nor does it worsen Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 symptoms.
These are some of the typical questions that people with COVID-19 and respiratory health. If you or anyone in your family suffers from a respiratory problem and wants to comprehend anything more about COVID-19 and respiratory health, request us in the comments section and we shall get it answered from the expert.
Till then, stay at home, on alert and PLEASE DO NOT panic and advise others too for the same.