Why COVID-19 Is Worse For Those With Respiratory Conditions

Apr 9 2020

COVID-19 is a member of the coronavirus family, a virus that causes common colds and respiratory tract infections. The outbreak is changing rapidly, but what we do know is that some people are more seriously impacted than others.

We spoke with two HMRI researchers and clinicians, Professor Peter Wark and Associate Professor Nathan Bartlett, about why COVID-19 is worst for those with respiratory conditions.

For the vast majority of people who get this illness, it will pass. They will only be unwell for a very small period of time.

However, for those with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, extra caution is required. If you’ve got issues with the target organ, and in this case it’s the lungs, then that gives the virus a better chance of getting into the lung tissue and causing a more serious condition.

People with any respiratory conditions need to take extra care during the COVID-19 outbreak, this includes people with COPD and Cystic Fibrosis. These people will need to isolate, avoid crowds and practice social distancing while the virus is circulating to protect their health.

People with well-controlled asthma should take medications as normal, as prescribed by their doctor. However, if you don’t have good control of your asthma now is the time to see your doctor and get control of your asthma and update your asthma plan.

For those with other respiratory conditions, please seek your doctor’s advice on managing your condition while the virus is circulating.

For people living with asthma the National Asthma Council of Australia [link} recommend the following:

  • Take your preventer medication as prescribed by your doctor, and don’t alter your medication without your doctor’s advice
  • Ensure your Asthma Action Plan is up-to-date and that you have sufficient and suitable medication
  • Use a puffer with a spacer to get the maximum benefit from your medication
  • Rest, eat well and continue a gentle exercise regime
  • Speak to your GP about the flu vaccination
  • Pay particular heed to social distancing advice, and good hygiene: washing hands regularly with soap and water
  • If you’re aged over 60, extra care is required, particularly if you have any other conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. Self-isolation is particularly important to maintain your health.
  • Should you need to go to hospital, bring your usual medications with you.

For up to date information and advice about the current COVID-19 situation please visit the Australian Government Department of HealthNSW Health and World Health Organisation websites.

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