Coronavirus (2019-nCoV): What People With Asthma Need to Know

 
Update – Feb. 13, 2020: The 2019 new coronavirus is officially named COVID-19. As of now, 15 people in the U.S. have tested positive, with more than 45,000 worldwide. 

But in the U.S., the flu is much more widespread. There have been more than 22 million flu cases the season. And the CDC estimates 12,000 to 30,000 have died. Continue healthy practices to avoid getting the flu.


Jan. 31, 2020 – The 2019 new coronavirus (also known at 2019-nCoV) is a hot topic in the news. Now that it has spread to the U.S., you may wonder if you should be concerned. It is a respiratory virus, meaning it affects the lungs, so what do people with asthma need to know?

What Is Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?

A coronavirus is a type of virus that often occurs in animals. Sometimes, it can spread to humans. This is rare.

In December 2019, a new coronavirus started spreading. Experts think people first caught the virus at a fish and live animal market. Now it is spreading from person to person.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronavirus symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The CDC believes symptoms may appear two to 14 days after coming in contact with the virus.

As of January 31, 2020, there are more than 9,700 cases of 2019-nCoV in the world. The World Health Organization has declared it a global health emergency.

Is the Coronavirus in the U.S.?

At least six people in the U.S. have coronavirus. It is not widespread. 

How Is It Spread and Who Is at Risk?

Most Americans are at a low risk of getting coronavirus at this time, says the CDC.

But you are at greater risk of catching the flu. Only six people have the coronavirus in the U.S. But more than 19 million Americans have the flu. And more than 10,000 Americans have died from the flu.

Avoiding the flu should be a bigger concern for you at this point. Take steps to avoid getting sick. Get the flu shot if you haven’t already. It’s not too late. Flu season can last as late as May.

People at highest risk for getting coronavirus right now are people who have traveled internationally. People who have had contact with people who have traveled internationally are also at risk.

If you have traveled internationally within the past two weeks and have symptoms, call your doctor.

How Can I Avoid Getting Coronavirus and Other Respiratory Infections?

Take the same steps you would take to stay healthy during cold and flu season.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, particularly after coughing or sneezing. If you don’t have access to running water, use an alcohol-based hand cleanser.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Stay away from people who are sick.
  • Don’t share makeup, food, dishes or eating utensils.

Wearing a surgical mask will not protect you from getting sick. if you are traveling to areas where coronavirus has been found, check CDC travel precautions.

How do you stay healthy and avoid asthma symptoms during cold and flu season? Join our community to learn more about protecting yourself from the flu and the coronavirus.

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Kathy P posted:

Hi @Azmtick - those are all great questions!

Many long-term controller or preventative medicine inhalers do contain an inhaled corticosteroid. These prevent and reduce airway swelling. They also reduce mucus in the lungs. They are the most effective long-term control medicines available. It's important to keep taking your controller medicine even when you don't have symptoms because they prevent asthma symptoms. Stopping your controller medicine may increase your asthma symptoms and the risk of complications if you do get the coronavirus, flu or other illness. If you are concerned about the steroid affecting your immune system, discuss that with your doctor.

Travel can expose you to germs. There are steps you can take to reduce your exposure and hopefully avoid getting sick. This article has lots of tips on traveling with asthma and allergies.

Thanks Kathy P. That's very useful advice.

Hi @Azmtick - those are all great questions!

Many long-term controller or preventative medicine inhalers do contain an inhaled corticosteroid. These prevent and reduce airway swelling. They also reduce mucus in the lungs. They are the most effective long-term control medicines available. It's important to keep taking your controller medicine even when you don't have symptoms because they prevent asthma symptoms. Stopping your controller medicine may increase your asthma symptoms and the risk of complications if you do get the coronavirus, flu or other illness. If you are concerned about the steroid affecting your immune system, discuss that with your doctor.

Travel can expose you to germs. There are steps you can take to reduce your exposure and hopefully avoid getting sick. This article has lots of tips on traveling with asthma and allergies.

I have intermittent asthma. I usually manage my symptoms (wheezing during the pollen season) with antihistamines and sometimes the Ventolin inhaler. I had an attack about a month ago and the last time before that was 10 years ago. For the most recent attack, I was prescribed Deltacortril for five days, and they certainly sorted the problem. The doctor also suggested I take a preventive inhaler to keep the asthma at bay.

However, I read on the internet that the preventive inhaler which delivers a small dose of steroids can weaken the immune system. So in light of the coronavirus outbreak, should I not take the preventive inhaler? I should add the I travel overseas regularly. 

We have updated this blog post to reflect more recent information on the 2019 new coronavirus (COVID-19). Even though coronavirus numbers have risen worldwide, people in the U.S. are still at a greater risk of getting the flu. 

Keep washing your hands and avoiding people who are sick. And don't forget to follow your Asthma Action Plan if you start feeling ill. 

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