Allergies, Asthma, Cardiovascular diseases and Covid-19
With the days getting longer, flowers pushing through the earth and butterflies greeting the warmer air, we know that spring is here! This time of the year is always full of promise and excitement. Overflowing with anticipation and prospects of a new beginning. Sadly, it also is abundant in pollen and dust, which are one of the primary catalysts for seasonal allergies and asthma.
Year on year many of us manage the good with the bad – the joys and delights of the warmer season balance out the dreaded irritation and malaise caused by hay fever, and asthma. But this year things are a little more challenging because we now also have COVID-19 to contend with.
Although currently there is no data to substantiate that those who suffer from allergies and asthma are at an increased risk for contracting COVID-19, the nature of the novel virus is enough to inject fear into those who suffer from these common conditions. To understand the link between allergies, asthma and COVID-19, we need first to understand seasonal allergies and asthma.
These conditions affect millions of people and occur when the immune system reacts to triggers (pollen, pet hair, foods, exercise). Both display unique symptoms – allergies leave you with itchy, watery eyes; itchy, runny nose; sneezing; nasal congestion; and postnasal drip while asthma causes the airways to narrow and swell, and produce extra mucus leaving you breathless. It can also trigger coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
Although some of these symptoms are like those experienced with COVID-19, they are not related. The new virus is known for its sudden onset of ailments such as high fevers, chills, body aches, gastrointestinal problems and severe headaches. Sufferers may even experience shortness of breath, hives, rashes and a sore throat. Allergies and asthma do not exhibit these symptoms.
Allergy sufferers are generally not more at risk of experiencing severe complications if infected with the coronavirus; however, the same can’t be said of asthmatics. Those who have asthma need to be warier because although the condition itself doesn’t make them more susceptible to getting the virus, it does make them more prone to developing severe complications if they do become infected.
Research, albeit limited, has shown that moderate to severe asthmatics are in the high-risk group of developing complications when infected with the viral illness. Therefore, asthmatics are urged to prioritise getting and keeping their asthma under control with the right medication to help prevent a severe flare should they contract COVID-19. They are also encouraged to be extra cautious in terms of following coronavirus preventative measures such as hand washing, sanitising, wearing of masks and social distancing.
Actions to take if you have moderate-to-severe asthma
* Keep your asthma under control by following your Asthma Action Plan;
* Continue your current medication, including any inhalers with corticosteroids;
* Use your inhaler properly;
* Avoid your asthma triggers;
* Make sure that you have at least a 30-day supply of your medicines;
* Call your doctor if you have concerns about your condition or feel sick;
* Have another member of your household who doesn’t have asthma clean and disinfect your house for you to avoid asthma triggers such as dust;
The month of September is not only symbolic for spring, but it is also symbolic for the body’s most essential muscle – the heart. February may be the month of love, but September is the month of heart health.
It’s been widely reported that cardiovascular ailments also play a role in how one’s body reacts to COVID-19. According to medical experts, those with underlying heart issues are at higher risk when it comes to the virus. Not only do those with heart problems have a weaker immune system (and thus are more susceptible to contracting coronavirus) when they do, they often experience severe complications.
One primary reason is that the heart and lungs work together in the body to maintain oxygenation so when the lungs are affected by a respiratory illness, the heart takes a beating too (pardon the pun). That’s why experts recommend for those who have any form of cardiovascular disease to be extremely cautious about COVID-19, strictly follow hygiene protocols and practice social distancing. In addition, these individuals must also continue taking their medication, unless otherwise advised by their doctor.
Whether you are an allergy sufferer, asthmatic or have cardiovascular problems, if you experience coronavirus symptoms, don’t wait! Contact a doctor immediately. When it comes to this disease, time is of the essence.
Actions to take if you suffer from cardiovascular diseases
* Take your medicines as prescribed;
* Follow your doctor’s diet and physical activity advice;
* Keep a minimum of a 30-day supply of your heart disease medication, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure medicines;
* Contact your doctor immediately if you feel sick;
* Do not delay life-saving treatment or emergency care.