Coronavirus and asthma
March 16, 2020

Coronavirus : Advice from Asthma UK

For the full article please go to Talking Medicines do not provide medical advice. This article is for information purposes only. For medical advice relating to coronavirus Covid-19 for your asthma, please contact your healthcare professional.

The coronavirus outbreak is a rapidly developing situation and the most up-to-date information for people in the UK can be found on the NHS website.

You might be wondering what coronavirus means for you, or your child if they have asthma.

When people with asthma get respiratory infections, it can set off their asthma symptoms.

To reduce your risk of asthma symptoms, the best action you can take is to follow these simple asthma management steps:

  • Keep taking your preventer inhaler daily as prescribed. This will help cut your risk of an asthma attack being triggered by any respiratory virus, including coronavirus.
  • Carry your reliever inhaler (usually blue) with you every day, in case you feel your asthma symptoms flaring up.
  • Download and use an asthma action plan to help you recognise and manage asthma symptoms when they come on.
  • If you come down with flu, a cold, or any other respiratory infection, follow our tips for looking after your asthma when you’re not well.

If more advice about coronavirus for people with asthma is released, we will post it here.

As well as taking care of your asthma, there are some straightforward steps everyone can take to lower the risk of getting and spreading coronavirus:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.
  • Use tissues to wipe your nose or catch sneezes, and then bin them straight away.
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands aren’t clean.
  • Follow the NHS advice to stay at home for seven days if you have a temperature and/or a new continuous cough. We know this advice may be confusing for people with asthma as many of you will get asthma coughs regularly. If you’re not sure what kind of cough it is, please speak to your GP, use the online 111 service or call 111 to ensure that you get the right care.
  • Public Health England doesn’t recommend wearing a face mask. Some people with lung conditions say they find wearing a mask makes breathing more difficult.

Thinking ahead

As the virus is predicted to spread further in the UK, the next step in slowing down the spread would be people taking steps to reduce their contact with others, for example by avoiding crowded spaces. It would be a good idea for people with long-term lung conditions – including asthma – to start thinking about how they would manage in this situation. Examples might include discussing arrangements to work from home with your employer. At the moment, this is not the guidance for people with lung conditions, but it is wise to prepare for what may happen next. We will continue to update our online information as we get more guidance from the NHS.

You should also make plans to help you cope if the spread of the virus causes significant disruption, or if you are asked to self-isolate. This might include making sure you know how you would get your medicines, food and other essential items if you had to self-isolate, and thinking about how you would stay in touch with friends and family.

Please see the NHS advice on staying at home for more information.

What to do if your asthma is getting worse

If your asthma is getting worse and you have symptoms of COVID-19, please use the 111 online service or call 111. Don’t go to your doctor’s surgery.

When you contact 111:

  • Let them know that you have asthma and that you’re getting asthma symptoms.
  • Explain how often you are using your reliever inhaler and if it’s not working completely or lasting for 4 hours.
  • Follow the instructions given to you by 111.
  • If your symptoms get worse quickly and you’re worried you are having an asthma attack, call 999 and let them know you may have coronavirus and are having an asthma attack. See our asthma attack advice for more information.

If your asthma is getting worse and you don’t have symptoms of COVID-19, make an urgent appointment to see your GP as usual. If you have an asthma attack, follow the steps on your action plan and call 999 for an ambulance if you need to.


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