ALL ABOUT ASTHMA

ASTHMA, WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW DURING  COVID-19

Very much often we might get overwhelmed when we are exposed to an allergen, because we have asthma. We sneeze just too much, cough or when things become unbearable we cough uncontrollably or cant even breathe. Asthma is a chronic disease involving the airways in the lungs. These airways, or bronchial tubes, allow air to come in and out of the lungs.If you have asthma your airways are always inflamed. They become even more swollen and the muscles around the airways can tighten when something triggers your symptoms. This makes it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs, causing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, dyspnea( shortness of breath) and/or chest tightness. 

Imagine getting an asthmatic acute attack in the middle of this COVID-19 pandemic and you  cannot possibly explain that these symptoms you are exhibiting are not related to this global pandemic. It is difficult, more so because not every physician will listen to you, if you -present yourself at your loal health dispensary with shortness of breath and coughing incessantly.

What is really an asthmatic attack like?

  • Severe shortness of breath, chest tightness or pain, and coughing or wheezing
  •     Low peak expiratory flow (PEF) readings, if you use a peak flow meter.
  •     Symptoms that fail to respond to use of a quick-acting (rescue) inhaler.

Signs and symptoms of an asthma attack vary from person to person. Work with your doctor to identify your particular signs and symptoms of worsening asthma — and what to do when they occur.

Lookmoutb formthee symptoms as well;

  •     Severe wheezing when breathing both in and out.
  •     Coughing that won’t stop.
  •     Very rapid breathing.
  •     Chest tightness or pressure.
  •     Tightened neck and chest muscles, called retractions.
  •     Difficulty talking.
  •     Feelings of anxiety or panic.
  •     Pale, sweaty face.

If your asthma symptoms don’t improve or get worse after you take medication as your doctor directed, you may need emergency treatment. Your doctor can help you learn to recognize an asthma emergency so that you’ll know when to get helBut what causes Asthma?

What Triggers Asthma?

No one really knows what causes asthma. What we do know is that asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. The causes can vary from person to person. Still, one thing is consistent: When airways come into contact with a trigger, they become inflamed, narrow, and fill with mucus.

  •     Allergies- Food allergies can cause mild to severe life-threatening reactions. They rarely cause asthma without other symptoms. If you have food allergies asthma can be part of a severe, life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.There are certain kind of foods that will often cause asthmatic reactions or make it worse when we take them. Look out for these foods if you develop broncholytic spasms when you take them; eggs, wheat, cow’s milk, soy,
  •     Exercise-For many asthma sufferers, timing of these symptoms is closely related to physical activity. And, some otherwise healthy people can develop asthma symptoms only when exercising. This is called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB), or exercise-induced asthma (EIA). Staying active is an important way to stay healthy, so asthma shouldn’t keep you on the sidelines. Your physician can develop a management plan to keep your symptoms under control before, during and after physical activity.
  •     Heartburn-One possibility is that the repeated flow of stomach acid into the esophagus damages the lining of the throat and the airways to the lungs. This can lead to breathing difficulties as well as a persistent cough. The frequent exposure to acid may also make the lungs more sensitive to irritants, such as dust and pollen, which are all known to trigger asthma.Another possibility is that acid reflux may trigger a protective nerve reflex. This nerve reflex causes the airways to tighten in order to prevent the stomach acid from entering the lungs. The narrowing of the airways can result in asthmatic symptoms, such as shortness of breath
  •     Smoking-Smoke from cigars, cigarettes and pipes harms your body in many ways, but it is especially harmful to the respiratory system. The airways in a person with asthma are very sensitive and can react to many things, or “triggers.” Coming into contact with these triggers often produces asthma symptoms. Tobacco smoke is a powerful asthma trigger
  •     Sinusitis-Asthma also has been linked to chronic sinus infections. Some people with a chronic nasal inflammation and irritation and/or asthma can develop a type of chronic sinusitis that is not caused by infection. Appropriate treatment of sinus infection often improves asthma symptoms
  •     Medications-Beta-blockers can be very important preventative care medications; yet some are prone to trigger asthma symptoms. Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which include some common over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, may trigger symptoms in some people with asthma.
  •     Weather-Hot, humid air can cause asthma symptoms as well. Humidity helps common allergens like dust mites and mold thrive, aggravating allergic asthma. Air pollution, ozone and pollen also go up when the weather is hot and humid. Particles in the air irritate sensitive airways.
  •     Smoke-Children who breathe secondhand smoke can have more frequent and more severe asthma attacks. Secondhand smoke may cause children to develop asthma. Children who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to get pneumonia, bronchitis, breathing problems that don’t get better, and poor lung function.

Managing Asthma during COVID-19

Whether you are young or older, it’s important to know how to manage your asthma. Work with your doctor to develop a written asthma action plan. Here’s a sample asthma action plan from NIH. Your action plan should spell out the daily treatment plan to help control your asthma. This may include recommendations for medications and for avoiding exposure to your triggers. The action plan should also give specific instructions for what to do when asthma symptoms start and what actions to take if symptoms worsen, including when to seek medical attention, go to the hospital, or call an ambulance.Patients with asthma should have an action plan, so they know if they’re getting into trouble and what to do about it.For some patients, Freemer notes that a hand-held device called a peak flow meter can help you monitor your asthma. You blow into the device to measure how strongly your lungs can force air out. If the meter shows that your air flow is lower than normal, you can use your action plan to adjust your treatment.

There are 2 main types of medicines for managing asthma: quick-relief and long-term controllers,” says Levine. Quick-relief medicines—such as short-acting bronchodilator inhalers—are used to relax the muscles in the airways to make it easier to breathe within a few minutes. If exercise is an asthma trigger, doctors may recommend taking this medicine 5 to 15 minutes before exercise or strenuous activity.

Long-term control medicines—such as inhaled corticosteroids—are used every day to help control symptoms and prevent asthma attacks. “Inhaled corticosteroids are recommended as the preferred long-term control medications for most children and adults.Taken daily, they help reduce inflammation to control the disease.”

If young children have trouble taking inhaled medications, there are masks and other devices that can help. Some kids are given a nebulizer, a portable machine that releases medicine in a mist.

A small percentage of people with asthma have a hard time controlling their symptoms even when they take their medicines regularly. Their airways become extremely inflamed and particularly sensitive to asthma triggers. They wheeze more, wake more throughout the night, and are at greater risk for breathing failure and trips to urgent care. If your asthma is severe, see a specialist to identify the most appropriate, personalized treatment.

The underlying causes of asthma are still unclear. Researchers believe asthma is caused by a combination of your genes and environmental factors. If you have allergies or a parent who has asthma, you’re at increased risk for the disease. Obesity and exposure to cigarette smoke may also raise the risk of developing asthma. NIH scientists are continuing to investigate the causes of this disease.

Complications of Asthma

  • fatigue.
  • underperformance or absence from work.
  • inability to exercise, leading to other health problems such as high blood pressure or weight gain.
  • permanent problems with your lungs.
  • repeated visits to hospital.
  • psychological problems including stress, anxiety and depression.
  • learning problems in children.

What  Astmatic management drugs to stock in case of COVID-19 Lock Down

You will need to have procured in advance your asthma management drugs in case your area has reported a possible lock down, or are in quarantine/isolation due to COVID-19. You should plan with your doctor to have an adequate supply of bronchodilators, nebulizers or what other drugs you use for managing your asthma, because the lockdown period  may and can be longer than anticipated, in case COVID-19 threat is not deemed neutralized within the given lockdown period.

It is also important that you make the health practitioners covering your area aware that you have asthma, because COVID-19 has more or less the same symptoms with asthma. This does not rule out that you could have contracted COVID-19 and only when you have been treated for asthma and tested negative for COVID-19 will you be released. If you test positive for corona virus disease, you will be isolated and treated as per WHO COVID-19- guidelines.

As always, stay healthy and well. If you suspect that you have heightened symptoms more than usual asthmatic symptoms, flu-like symptoms that mimic Corona Virus Disease like severe shortness of breath, body aches, dry cough and aggravated fever, please seek immediate medical attention.