Asthma and coronavirus: Act now to decrease your chance of a serious outcome

By Sandee LaMotte, CNN

(CNN)Dr. Matt Dougherty isn’t waiting for his pediatric asthma patients or their parents to call him in a panic, frightened that a sudden cough or wheeze is due to the novel coronavirus. He’s reaching out to them, virtually, via telemedicine.

“I look through my patient files, identify the ones in the past that I know have had problems this time of year with allergies triggering their asthma and contact them before they have symptoms,” said Dougherty, who treats children with allergies and asthma at Esse Health in St. Louis, Missouri.”I tell my patients, let’s maximize your lung health now,” he said. “Then in case you get unlucky enough to run into coronavirus, at least we’ve come into it with the best lung condition we can.”

Asthma vs. Covid-19 symptoms

Asthma is one of the underlying health conditions that puts one at higher risk for a more severe case of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“During an asthma attack it’s almost like breathing through a straw because that inflammation is restricting the airway,” said Dr. Lakiea Wright, who specializes in allergies and immunology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Coronavirus: What to do if you or a loved one has symptoms“You can imagine if a virus that causes extra inflammation gets in there, then that’s going to be worse,” Wright said. “Those are the patients who might end up on ventilators to help with breathing because Covid-19 is doing a lot of damage in the lungs.”Many of the key signs of Covid-19, such as coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness, are also typical symptoms of asthma.

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