Updated: May 12, 2020 2:18:27 pm
Discussions around asthma care and management become even more crucial owing to the pandemic. For decades, we have been reading reports that along with other environmental triggers, outdoor and indoor air pollution also causes asthma. This year, it has been predicted that patients with pre-existing chronic respiratory illnesses such as bronchial asthma are at a higher risk of contracting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-COV2) and even developing a fatal disease. However, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), there is no clear evidence to back the argument, explains Dr V R Pattabhi Raman, pulmonologist, Royal Care Super Speciality Hospital, Coimbatore.
“Asthma is an inflammatory respiratory condition in which patients find it hard to breathe as the tubes carrying air to the lungs swell up. This is a result of the mucus inside bronchi being exposed to an allergen, like dirt or a pollutant leading to recurrent episodes of breathlessness, wheezing, cough and chest tightness,” said Dr Raman.
Below are some of the suggestions for severe asthma patients:
Avoid asthma flare-ups: If you are allergic to dust mites or pollen, they can make the symptoms get worse. Cold air, fumes from perfumes, tobacco smoke, weather changes, common cold and sinus infections are also considered as asthma flare-ups. Paying attention to these things and keeping them at bay is an ideal way of dealing with your condition during COVID-19.
Food and nutrition tips: One should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as they are a source of antioxidants such as beta carotene and vitamins C and E. Intake of vitamin D rich food like milk, eggs and fish is advisable. These may help in reducing lung swelling and inflammation. Avoid allergy-triggering foods such as wine, pickles and dried fruits, fresh and frozen shrimp. Asthmatics should also spend a few minutes in the sun that can increase vitamin D levels. Maintaining a balanced diet and avoiding known trigger foods may aid in managing symptoms.
The healing power of water: Lungs need the right temperature and water to function properly, therefore, consuming adequate amount of water is as important as eating healthy. For asthmatics, it is important to breathe through the nose as air inhaled from the mouth can be cold and dry causing inflammation of the lungs.
Keeping anxiety and stress at bay: It is natural to get anxious and stressed looking at the current state of virus spread. But strong emotions for an asthmatic can become a trigger for an attack. Therefore, coping with the stressful environment is a must.
Why stockpiling is not the best measure to take: In the wake of the covid-19 outbreak, there has been a shortage of medicines and inhalers as people are stockpiling in the fear that they will need more if they become sick. This is worrisome because those who do need them, in the end, may be left without it. While is it important to make sure there is an adequate supply of medication in lockdown, rather than over-ordering, people should use the inhalers they already possess. Look up for best inhaler techniques online about how to best clean, store and look after it.
Dr Vishwanath Gella , Pulmonary Medicine & Critical Care Director & Senior Consultant, AIG Hospital, Hyderabad said, ”Most people with asthma manage their symptoms with high doses of medicines like a preventer or a reliever inhaler and injectables like as immunoglobulin that help to reduce the frequency of severe exacerbations. But some people with severe asthma struggle to manage their condition through medicines. To aid them, we now have minimally invasive techniques like bronchial thermoplasty that help in reducing asthma attacks. The therapy is carried on patients who are on oral steroids and use inhalers twice a week.”
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