Asthmatics Susceptible to COVID‑19

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Are Those With Asthma At Risk For Coronavirus?

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Data about COVID-19 (2019 Novel Corona­virus) is incomplete. There­fore, health­care providers may offer conflict­ing empirical infor­ma­tion. In simple terms, COVID-19 primarily attacks the respira­tory system. In severe cases, acute respira­tory distress syndrome (ARDS) builds fluid within the small air sacs of the lungs. It seems logical to conclude that an asthma attack can complicate COVID-19, leading to ARDS. This is further complicated when someone with asthma contracts the flu before exposure to COVID-19.

Asthma attack

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition where airways become inflamed, narrow and swell. This produces extra mucus, which makes it difficult to breathe.

In a paper posted to medRxiv, researchers found that of 399 patients with at least one additional disease (including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hepatitis B, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney diseases, and cancer) 79% had a greater chance of requiring intensive care, a respirator or both, or of dying.

China CDC analysis of 44,672 patients found that the fatality rate in patients who reported no other health conditions was 0.9%. It was 10.5% for those with cardiovascular disease, 7.3% for those with diabetes, 6.3% for people with chronic respiratory diseases such as COPD, 6.0% for people with hypertension, and 5.6% for those with cancer. According to the WHO, the highest risk groups include:

  1. People caring for someone who is ill with coronavirus
  2. People over age 60
  3. People with chronic medical conditions such as:

Some counties have warned the elderly and people with underlying health condi­tions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, chronic liver disease, blood disorders and other conditions, to remain at home as much as possible.

⚠️ CDC Respiratory Warning

March 26, 2020 – The CDC warns that people with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma are at risk for coronavirus.

Though “chronic respiratory conditions” are contraindicated, the WHO is reportedly alone in specifically listing asthma. Mitchell Grayson, M.D., FAAAAI, FACAAI, allergist/immunologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and chair of AAFA’s Medical Scientific Council downplays its role. He was asked: Are people with asthma at higher risk of contracting COVID-19? Grayson responded: “Not that we are aware of—although data is still developing.”

These are the COVID-19 mortality rates by age calculated by the Chinese CDC:

  • Age 10–19: 0.2%
  • Age 20–29: 0.2%
  • Age 30–39: 0.2%
  • Age 40–49: 0.4%
  • Age 50–59: 1.3%
  • Age 60–69: 3.6%
  • Age 70–79: 8.0%
  • Age 80+: 14.8%

The steps to avoid the flu also help protect you from the coronavirus:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 to 30 seconds, always after coughing or sneezing.
  • Use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol, when you do not have access to running water.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Stay away from sick people.
  • Do not share makeup, food, dishes or eating utensils.
  • Take prescribed asthma medicines to keep your asthma under control.

Those who have possible contact with the virus or who manifest symptoms should self-quarantine for 14 days while remaining in contact with a healthcare provider.

How Coronavirus Kills: Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) & Treatment

Until more data is available, anyone with chronic lung problems, including asthma, should take extra precau­tions to avoid any additional respiratory infections. This is especially the case for those aged 60 and over, but younger people are not excluded. Consider lowering risk of infection and staying A Bit More Healthy by getting a flu vaccination and remain­ing at home—especially if you are sick or at risk—until other­wise advised.

Lung Sounds of Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Rales
References
  1. Who is getting sick, and how sick? A breakdown of coronavirus risk by demographic factors. statnews.com
  2. Coronavirus (COVID-19): What People With Asthma Need to Know. aafa.org
  3. Large gatherings should be canceled due to coronavirus outbreak, California Gov. Gavin Newsom says. latimes.com
  4. Asthma Action Plan. aafa.org
  5. Coronavirus – health advice for people with asthma. asthma.org.uk
  6. AIRWAY ATTACK ‘Symptomless’ coronavirus poses deadly risk for millions with asthma – as UK on high alert for killer bug. the-sun.com
  7. Doctors treating asthma getting calls and questions about coronavirus. wave3.com
  8. What To Do if You Are Sick. cdc.gov
Kevin Williams is a health advocate and writer of hundreds of articles for multiple websites, including: A Bit More Healthy, KevinMD, and Sue’s Nutrition Buzz.

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