Asthma patients are more at-risk of COVID-19 and should take these preventative steps

Posted at 11:14 AM, Mar 15, 2020

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — An allergy specialist is urging all asthma patients to stay vigilantly on top of their health until the threat of COVID-19 subsides.

"Many infections will start with the upper respiratory tract and we know that in the asthmatic population if we don't clear that up, we won't have much control of clearing the lung off," Dr. Karen Gell said.

Gell said health problems could quickly compound for patients who do contract the virus and have not been properly managing their asthma.

"It gets easy to over-read everything. But most of us know how to take care of ourselves," Gell said.

She says the best thing that people with asthma or other respiratory ailments can do is know their baseline health.

"It's really important for the whole airway to be in good shape," Gell said.

Asthma patients who find themselves having to use their rescue inhaler more than two times a week may need to re-evaluate how to manage their symptoms. Those patients should contact their physicians.

"Use your judgment. But if you're an asthmatic that's unstable particularly, that may be a reason to stay home and hunker down," Gell said.

How should asthmatics differentiate the symptoms of asthma from those of COVID-19?

"The cough may be a little bit more dry in COVID-19. Again, more of a mucousy, wet cough could be a little bit more associated with asthma," Gell said.

Gell also added that fever of over 100 and shortness of breath are other symptoms of the coronavirus.

"That's the thing that we'll really be watching for, how short of breath does someone get?" she said.

If you do have reason to believe you need COVID-19 testing, you should call your doctor's office ahead of visiting. For more tips on what to do if you think you have the coronavirus, click here.

This story was originally published by Michael Martin on WXMI in Grand Rapids, Michigan.