Are people with asthma more likely to be impacted by COVID-19?
People with asthma are not more likely to contract the virus. However, anyone with a chronic respiratory illness such as asthma, is at higher risk of experiencing more severe symptoms if they contract COVID-19. COVID-19 can affect your respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs) causing an asthma attack, and possibly lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory failure.
How can I tell the difference between COVID-19 infection and an asthma flare up?
Respiratory symptoms associated with COVID-19 are very similar to asthma flare ups. These include increasing shortness of breath and cough. Based on evolving research, a “new” fever is the symptom that most differentiates an asthma flare from COVID-19. Fever has been one of the most common symptoms to date in confirmed cases of COVID-19.
As a number of the symptoms of COVID-19 are respiratory, it is important that you monitor your symptoms carefully, look out for additional symptoms, and contact your healthcare provider by phone if you have any concerns. Asthma symptoms can flare up for a number of reasons, like seasonal allergies or an infection. You may also experience asthma symptoms due to an increased exposure to indoor triggers because you are spending more time indoors.
If you experience a sudden fever, in addition to respiratory symptoms, you should immediately self-isolate and contact your healthcare provider or call 811, Alberta COVID-19 Information Line, for further advice.
As someone with asthma what should I be doing to protect myself and others?
Follow all of the guidelines provided to all Canadians, including:
- Stay at home and avoid unnecessary and non-essential contact with others.
- Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap for 20 seconds each time.
- If you must leave the home, physically distance yourself from others by 2 meters (6 feet).
- If you exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms or other illness, even if minor, isolate yourself for 14 days and consult your health care professional.
- Follow your Asthma Action Plan.
- Take your asthma medication exactly as prescribed.
- Carry your reliever medication with you at all times.
- Talk to your healthcare provider, insurer and pharmacist about creating an emergency supply of prescription medications, such as asthma inhalers. Make sure that you have a 30 day supply of all medications and required supplies on hand in case you need to stay home for a long time.
- Know how to use your inhaler.
- Avoid your asthma triggers.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks daily to protect yourself against COVID-19.
- Avoid disinfectants that can cause an asthma attack.
- Take steps to help yourself cope with stress and anxiety. As more cases of COVID-19 are discovered and communities take action to combat the spread of disease, it is natural to feel concerned or stressed. Strong emotions can trigger an asthma attack.
- Ensure that you and your loved ones know what to do in case of an asthma attack.
My child has asthma, how can I protect them?
Evolving research indicates that most children who contract COVID-19 have mild symptoms or no symptoms, but they can be carriers of COVID-19. It is, therefore, especially important to limit their contact with others, and particularly with vulnerable groups, such as older adults and those with underlying health conditions. It is important to note that some children do develop serious symptoms of the virus.
- Keep your children home and avoid contact with other people. Consider hosting virtual playdates to help keep them entertained and socially engaged.
- Ensure that you have a 30-day supply of your child’s asthma medications on hand.
- Ensure that your child is taking their prescribed medications as prescribed, both controller and reliever, and that their Kids Asthma Action Plan is being followed.
- Check to ensure your child’s inhaler technique is done properly.
- Be a role model for good hygiene at home, at work and in the community to help protect you, your family and your asthamatic child.
- Encourage frequent hand washing and teach children to avoid touching their mouths and faces.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items like toys and electronics, as young children tend to put their fingers or objects in their mouth.
- Launder frequently touched items like plush toys, bedding and towels.
- When returning from work keep your distance from your family until you have changed clothes and washed your hands thoroughly. Then go in for the hug.
It’s also important to check in with children to ask how they’re doing. Many children feel confused or scared when their routines are interrupted. Talk to them about what is happening and explain why it’s important to follow the protective rules that have been recommended by health experts. Also look at My Health Alberta for more information.
If you have asthma should you stay home?
It is essential that you follow the guidelines outlined by your municipal, provincial or territorial and federal health authorities regarding physical/social distancing, hygiene best practices like hand washing, and staying home, particularly if you feel sick.
If you have asthma, you do not need to stay inside indefinitely. You can go for walks in your neighbourhood while keeping a physical distance of two metres (six feet) from others. One of the most important things that you can do to prevent the spread of the virus is to limit your contact with other people – whenever possible, do your shopping online and avoid crowds and crowded places.
If you need essentials like groceries, try to arrange to have a friend or family member pick them up and deliver them without physical contact. You can also have medications delivered from the pharmacy. If you do need to go out, make sure to plan ahead to limit these trips so you are spending as little time in shared public spaces as possible.
Staying home decreases the risk of catching the virus through contact with others.
Remember social/physical distancing does not mean social isolation. Stay connected with family, friends and the community by phone, email, text, Facebook, Facetime, Skype and Zoom. Organize a family or community check-in.
Download an infographic for asthma patients:
Where do I find up-to-date information about COVID-19?
NATIONAL - Canadian Government