During the current pandemic of COVID-19, it is likely that parents of children, who have Asthma may have several questions in their mind. Although everybody is practicing social distancing, many would be wondering if their child is more susceptible to the COVID-19 infection, and what special measures should be taken to prevent risk of infection; how does one differentiate between the symptoms of Asthma and that of COVID-19, or whether every episode of cough and cold requires a doctors’ consultation.
A very important point that one must remember during these times is to keep the Asthma under control and prevent the onset of flare ups. Hence, it is important to adhere to the prescribed medication, take the doses at regular intervals and use the inhalers correctly, as this may help avoid Asthma flare ups. Avoiding flare ups will help to avoid the extra burden and side effects of high doses of drugs required to control the flare ups, and cut down unnecessary visits to the clinic/ hospital. Also, talk to your doctor for an Asthma action plan for your child. This will help you to to intervene early in case of symptoms by increasing the Asthma medications or any other medication that has been advised by your doctor. Teleconsultation is a good option which has now become available and you can also use this modality to reach out for medical advice.
Currently, it is difficult to say whether children with asthma are at a higher risk of getting the COVID-19 infection. From the preliminary reports that are available, it looks like there is no increased risk in children with Asthma. However, it is too soon to infer and more information should be available in due course of time.
Some symptoms of COVID-19 and Asthma can be similar. Cetrain features may help differentiate between Asthma symptoms and COVID-19. Fever is more commonly seen with COVID-19. History of someone else in the family also having symptoms such as cough, fever, shortness of breath or Asthma symptoms not responding to asthma medication could point towards COVID-19.
The following steps would be useful to care for an individual having Asthma in the current COVID-19 pandemic:
1) Wash hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer regularly
2) Maintain social distancing, stay away from people who are unwell
3) Avoid any known triggers that may cause Asthma flare ups
4) Continue Asthma medications regularly and follow the Asthma action plan as advised by your doctor
5) Keep a stock of one extra inhaler so as to avoid running out of medicine
6) Engage in some indoor activities which can help a child having Asthma stay calm and relaxed, as Stress and Anxiety can be triggers for Asthma
7) Do get in touch with your doctor in case of any queries on the medication course or if any troublesome symptoms show
(Author is Dr Prashant Chhajed, HOD-Respiratory Medicine, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi and Fortis Hospital, Mulund. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)