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How are asthma patients dealing with treatment during coronavirus?

Christina Kovacs

Asthma Patient Leader

Patient Leader, Christina, tells us about what asthma patients are currently dealing with when it comes to treatment interruptions, medication supplies, and ongoing care during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Full Transcript

Christina: Hi I’m Christina, I’m an Asthma Patient Leader, and this is how COVID-19 is affecting my community. One of the very first ways that I started to notice things were shifting in the community was …. When there was a complete shortage of N99 masks. And N99 masks are something that asthma patients really depend on because it helps protect from things like smog, bad air quality, other chemicals, VOCs and perfumes -- you name it, anything that’s going to trigger an asthma attack.

Another way that I noticed things changing was in the beginning of March when the discussion was around flattening the curve. And there was a very real fear that hospitals could be completely overwhelmed. This is terrifying for patients who have asthma because the ER is a place where oftentimes we have to go, if things go south and we need help desperately. So it’s not only fearful for us that the emergency room might just be way too busy to handle us. But, also being a high risk patient -- being somewhere where there could be COVID-19 patients and it could just be there in the air and on surfaces. I mean that’s a huge risk for us so, that’s another topic that I see discussed, and a very real fear.There are some medications that are being used in the fight against COVID-19 that are also asthma medications. One of those is a rescue inhaler, which is super important if you have asthma, to have that on hand. And it’s being used for COVID-19 patients, because it lowers the amount of inflammation in the lungs, which is obviously very helpful when you have some kind of respiratory issue. However, the problem is that there are pharmacies all across the nation that are having issues getting this for patients -- that are patients that really desperately need them. Uh, they’re either back-ordered, they’re completely out, they’re waiting on the manufacturer to be able to pick back up -- and that one to two week lag time is a huge deal for patients who desperately depend on these to be able to get through.

But with that being said, my biggest piece of advice for patients is to have a game plan with your doctor. The first thing I would ask for is to see if you can get a three or six month prescription for all of your asthma medications so that you have them on hand. And there’s never this fear in the back of your mind, that you might run out and you might not be able to get them.

The next thing that I would recommend is having a set game plan with your doctor. If you experience a flare, what do you need to do? What precautions do you need to take? And if you start to feel like you’re getting symptomatic and you might have COVID-19 yourself, having that lifeline of a doctor who knows you, knows your condition, understands what you have gone through, to be able to help you and guide you, is a great piece of mind. So, see if there’s a contact number you can have or a direct line to a nurse or someone in their office.

There are definitely some very unique challenges for asthma patients and those who have respiratory conditions when it comes to COVID-19. There are various fears and worries. But I really believe that we’re in this together, and if we have one another to depend on for tips and help, then we’ll be able to get through this.

What's happening in your community during COVID-19? Send your links and stories with our editor here.

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