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What people with asthma and allergies should consider now
People with a pollen allergy have a hard time in spring: complaints such as constant sneezing, coughing and a runny nose are bothersome and uncomfortable. Other allergies, for example to dust or animal hair, can also cause these symptoms. Asthma and allergic asthma also affect the airways and can cause problems such as coughing or shortness of breath.
Since similar symptoms can be associated with COVID-19 and also primarily affects the respiratory tract, many affected people are concerned about whether they could distinguish an infection from their other symptoms at all. Many are also concerned about whether allergies and asthma increase the risk of infection with COVID-19 or a severe course. Dr. Arveen Bhasin, allergy and immunology expert at the Mayo Clinic in Florida, has taken on this topic and is providing answers.
Are people with allergies and / or asthma at greater risk?
First things first: In a Mayo Clinic news article, Dr. Bhasin a cautious all-clear. According to the "Centers for Disease Control" there is a possibility that people with asthma are at higher risk of infection for COVID-19. However, the statement of the "Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology" stands against it, according to which there is no data to support this presumption.
Differentiation of allergy symptoms and COVID-19
“Allergies, which affect millions of people, arise when a person's immune system reacts to a foreign substance such as pollen, animal hair or certain foods. Although certain symptoms can overlap, allergies to COVID-19 differ in terms of the sudden onset of disease and symptoms, ”explains Dr. Arveen Bhasin.
As typical symptoms of an allergy, Dr. Bhasin:
- itchy, watery eyes,
- itchy, runny nose,
- stuffy nose.
Some of these symptoms could also appear during a cold or other viral infection.
COVID-19 infection is often accompanied by these signs:
- Shortness of breath,
- Difficulty breathing,
- possibly gastrointestinal complaints.
Dr. mentions two important differences Bhasin the following: With COVID-19 infection, the symptoms often worsen quickly after onset. While allergy symptoms usually improve fairly quickly with medication and a change of location, this has no effect on the symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
Differentiation of asthma symptoms and COVID-19
How can asthma symptoms be distinguished from infection with COVID-19?
“Asthma is a condition in which the airways are narrowed and swollen and additional mucus is produced. While asthma can make breathing difficult and can cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, if you were asthmatic you would likely recognize a seizure. However, it would be unlikely that you would get a fever, ”explains the expert Dr. Arveen Bhasin.
As with allergies, the following also applies to asthma to differentiate between COVID-19: “The symptoms of COVID-19 usually appear quickly and worsen. In the case of allergies and asthma, changing location and medication can easily improve the symptoms. "
Tips that can help those affected now
Dr. Bhasin recommends people with allergies or asthma to take certain measures during the current lockdown. She indicated that it was particularly important now that Knowing individual triggers for allergy flare-ups or asthma attacks and, if necessary, making adjustments to the changed conditions, such as working in the home office:
“For example, if you're allergic to oak pollen, but you're currently running outdoors instead of the usual gym routine, you should reduce your mileage and plan to shower immediately after your workout. If you know that dust is a trigger for your asthma, you should adjust your work schedule so that you vacuum or wipe more often. ”
Dr. Bhasin also emphasizes that it is important that not just stop taking the usual medication:
“Keep using your steroid inhalers and nasal sprays. Although there has been concern about these drugs and their association with the increasing prevalence of COVID-19, there is no literature to support this. The same applies to saline rinses. It is recommended that you continue to use your asthma and allergy medications, regardless of whether they are over the counter or prescription. ”
In addition, Bhasin gives detailed tips on correct use of nasal spray:
“Avoid spraying your nasal septum or nasal bone, as this can make the skin thinner and cause bleeding. Instead, tilt your head down, shake the bottle, and then aim toward the ear. Spray and sniff slowly. Then shake the bottle and repeat the process in the other nostril. "
The spray opening should be wiped after each use. Spray bottles should only be used by one person.
Dr. Bhasin points out that after taking the same medication for a long time, the body gets used to it and the effect wears off. In this case, it could be helpful to switch to a different product for a few weeks.
If your symptoms worsen and you are concerned that you have been infected with COVID-19, please contact your family doctor by phone. Telephone advice outside of office hours is also available on 116117, although there may be longer waiting times. In urgent medical emergencies, please dial 112.
You can find more information on the procedure for suspecting a coronavirus infection on the information page of the Federal Center for Health Education. (kh)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Magistra Artium (M.A.) Katja Helbig
- Weiss, Cynthia: Mayo Clinic Q and A: Combating allergies, asthma during COVID-19; (published 04/16/2020), Mayo Clinic
- Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA): Coronavirus: Questions and Answers; (accessed on April 17, 2020), BZgA