Are asthma patients more affected by COVID-19?

When the COVID-19 pandemic had started, there was a lot of uncertainty as to who was at a higher risk of getting seriously ill or dying due to the coronavirus. People with asthma were especially worried.

As the novel disease was spreading at a rapid rate, there was very little data and knowledge available to researchers and medical professionals to identify and conclude which groups had a higher chance of getting infected. 

Using the previous knowledge and data from reports of ‘chronic lung disease’, America’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that people with asthma might be at a higher risk of developing severe disease from COVID-19. However, thanks to later studies and research, this fear has been dealt with.

Finding of Studies

According to a study conducted at George Institute’s respiratory division, asthma doesn’t necessarily increase the chances of severe illness or death due to the coronavirus. There was speculation that respiratory infections causes by COVID-19 might worsen asthma symptoms, and corticosteroid treatment taken by asthma patients may increase susceptibility to COVID-19 infection and its severity.

In people suffering from asthma, the airways become inflamed and produce mucus, thus making it difficult to breathe, which in turn impairs routine activities. Data from as many as 3,00,000 COVID-19 positive patients from Asia, Europe and Noth and South America were analysed.

The result?

Around 7 in every 100 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 had asthma, compared to 8 in 100 in the general population. Surprisingly, the researcher also found that asthma patients, in fact, had a 14 per cent LOWER risk of developing COVID-19!

The study didn’t show any difference in the risk of death from COVID-19 in people with asthma compared with those who don’t have asthma. Other research publications, including The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, also found similar conclusions. That same study also found that people with asthma have a lower risk of death due to COVID-19. There was another study conducted by the American Journal of Critical Care Medicine. This compared the rate of asthma in people with COVID-19 by region, disease severity, and death. According to this study as well, there was no clear evidence of an increased risk to the coronavirus due to the presence of asthma. In fact, there was another study that suggested that approved asthma treatments could actually be a plus point for people with asthma who are already taking these medications before contracting the infection.

What most of these studies have hence proved is that if you have asthma, you’re no more or less likely to get COVID-19 than if you don’t have asthma. But what was a surprising finding of many of these studies is that even if you have asthma, your chances of getting very sick from COVID-19 are still not greater as compared to the general population. That there is a possibility that your asthma medications are probably protecting you from the virus.

The doctors’ advice

According to the best pulmonologists in Dubai, this doesn’t mean people stop taking the usual precautions. They are applicable equally to all, asthma or not. Everyone needs to wear their masks, wash hands regularly, maintain social distance and get vaccinated. Also, according to the best hospital in Dubai, it goes without saying that it’s important to take your prescribed medications on time because if you get COVID-19, then they need to be as controlled as possible so that asthma does not get worse. Moreover, the steroids in the medicines may reduce the viral replication of the virus. Hence, if your airways are less compromised due to the medications, you’re less likely to develop a complication if you get COVID-19.

It’s important to note that although people with asthma do not seem to have a higher risk of infection as compared to people without asthma, further research is surely needed for a better understanding of how the virus affects those with asthma.

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