World Asthma Day, celebrated on the second Tuesday of May every year, is a campaign which has been created with the objective of making people more aware about the condition and the dangers it poses. This year, it also highlights how in the current health climate, with the COVID 19 pandemic, people with asthma need to be more vigilant, maintain social distancing and ensure they have access to their medication.
“The most important thing to do when you’re an asthmatic is to know what your triggers are. Once those have been identified it will be easier for you to either deal with them or avoid them or having a solution handy in case an attack happens. Triggers can be internal and external. Internal triggers can be obesity, hypertension, while external triggers include dust mites, mold allergens, pollen, perfumes, cold temperatures,” explains Dr Manoj Goel, Director & Head, Pulmonology, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.
Asthma often results in wheezing, coughing, heaving chest, difficulty in breathing/shortness of breath, blurred vision, chapped lips, dry mouth and an intense feeling of discomfort and claustrophobia. “This is because the airways to your lungs have narrowed making it difficult for the oxygen to reach it,” he adds.
During the covid 19 pandemic asthmatic patients are certainly vulnerable. Dr Goel says that while there are no studies indicating that asthmatic patients are more prone to covid 19, it is believed that since the two are respiratory ailments they only complement each other. “If you an asthmatic patient who is struggling with the COVID 19 pandemic, please wear a mask. That is your first line of defense against the virus followed by hand sanitizer and gloves,” he says.
So, what do you do to keep yourself from suffering from an asthma attack?
Ensure you have your inhaler around you. If you don’t then make sure you do not panic. Sit upright, take deep breaths and try to reach the nearest hospital. The most important thing is to ensure you have removed yourself from the trigger. As asthma patients there are other things you need to keep in mind such as not smoking and not being in the presence of secondhand smoke. Chemicals in tobacco only aggravate asthmatic conditions. It is said that the lung function of an asthmatic smoker is 30 percent less than that of a non-asthmatic smoker.
Secondly, if you are an asthmatic and love working out, there is no reason you shouldn’t. Swimming, aerobics walking, jogging are all good exercise options for asthmatic patients. Have an action plan that can be deployed in case you do have an attack. Thirdly do not overexert yourself if you are an asthmatic patient, take it slow.
“In the end my advice to you would be constant vigilance. Do not be lax about your condition, it is debilitating and needs to be considered when making decisions. Have a treatment plan ready so that I case of any emergency you can avail of it and take the necessary help,” he says.