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Image / Editorial

Coronavirus: Asthma Society issues COVID-19 advice

by Jennifer McShane
15th Mar 2020

The Asthma Society of Ireland is advising people with asthma to be extra vigilant in their asthma management and follow the advice set out by the HSE, amidst growing coronavirus concerns

The Asthma Society said they have been liaising continuously with the HSE over the past number of weeks in relation to the coronavirus outbreak.

“We have been inundated with calls from individuals with asthma and COPD who are extremely worried about how coronavirus will affect them if they get it and what additional precautions they can take to minimise their chances of contracting the virus,” Sarah O’Connor, CEO of the Asthma Society, said.

“We have communicated to the HSE the needs and very acute concerns of respiratory patients. We welcome increased engagement from the HSE with patient organisations in the last 24 hours and updated advice that has been provided for people in vulnerable groups, such as those with a long-term respiratory illness.”

Specific HSE advice needed

“Unfortunately, international data indicates if people with asthma and other respiratory conditions contract coronavirus, the health impact can be more severe; they are more likely to experience complications and to need hospital treatment.

“We have urged the HSE to develop specific COVID-19 advice for people with long-term respiratory illnesses, as has already been created for other disease areas, like cancer.”

Management & self-separation

She urged those with asthma to ensure their condition was as well-managed as possible. “At the moment, the most important thing that people with asthma or COPD can do is to ensure that their underlying condition is well managed, which is detailed below and on our website.

“The HSE has advised people from vulnerable groups, which includes people with a long-term respiratory illness, to ‘self-separate’. The Asthma Society is strongly recommending that patients, their carers and close family and friends closely follow the HSE’s advice on how to avoid spreading the virus,” she continued.

She added their Asthma in the Pharmacy nurse clinics for March will be closed and the April clinics would be confirmed in the coming days.

“While the office is closed, the Asthma Society will be unable to post any website sales – these will be processed and delivered after the offices are re-opened.”

Top Tips for managing your Asthma:

  • Take your preventer inhaler as prescribed. This will decrease your risk of suffering an asthma attack and reduce your asthma symptoms.
  • Have an up-to-date Asthma Action Plan which will help you recognise when your asthma is deteriorating – you can download one here.
  • Have an up-to-date Communications Card which will help you manage your COPD – download one here
  • Always carry your reliever inhaler (usually blue) with you in case of an asthma emergency – reliever inhaler over-reliance
  • Know the 5 Step Rule – which will help you manage an asthma attack if one occurs – you can download an Asthma Attack Card here
  • Know your asthma triggers in order to avoid them where possible – check out our information on asthma triggers here
  • Ensure you are practising proper inhaler technique. If your inhaler requires a spacer, we recommend you use one to ensure best medication delivery – check out our information on spacer usage here
  • Do not smoke and avoid areas where smoke is present if possible.
  • If you feel like your symptoms are deteriorating, or if you are experiencing a “new” fever or “new” cough – call your GP as soon as possible and they will support and advise you.
  • Get your prescription filled to ensure you have enough medication for one month – the Department of Health and Irish Pharmacy Union have assured us that there is no need to stock up beyond that.

The Society runs a free Asthma and COPD Adviceline on 1800 44 54 64. 

Read more: ‘All of a sudden I was really struggling’: 1 person in Ireland dies from asthma every 6 days

Read more: How often do you use your blue inhaler? Over-use can lead to asthma exacerbation or death