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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (April 23, 2020) – It’s a familiar story to allergists. They meet a patient with asthma who, when asked if their asthma is well controlled says, “Absolutely.” But once the patient has answered a few more questions, it is revealed that their asthma is not at all well controlled. Especially as asthma patients around the world deal with COVID-19, staying on course with their regular treatment in order to keep their asthma under control is more important than ever.
“Unfortunately, many people who suffer from asthma don’t recognize what well-controlled symptoms look like,” says allergist J. Allen Meadows, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “They think it’s the normal course of asthma to have symptoms that don’t really go away or to need your quick relief inhaler more than two times in a week. May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness month. It’s the perfect time to impress upon everyone the importance of keeping asthma under control in order to lead a healthier, more active life. Everyone with asthma should be a full participant in all life’s activities, without compromise due to issues with breathing!”
Following is information ACAAI wants you to be aware of as you work toward controlling your asthma:
Stay on your meds - With the COVID-19 pandemic coinciding with the Spring allergy season, you may be concerned about using your intranasal corticosteroids for nasal allergies and your inhaled corticosteroids for your asthma. There is no data to suggest that continuing these allergy and asthma medications will have any effect on increasing your risk of getting the COVID-19 infection or if you get the infection, lead to a worse outcome. It is important to control your allergy and asthma symptoms as they could potentially lead to misdiagnosis of COVID-19 if there were an overlap of some symptoms.
Allergists are specially trained to treat your asthma – Studies reveal most children and adults with asthma don’t see an allergist – a specialist who could improve their symptoms. Allergists take a detailed history and can do testing to identify your unique set of triggers and symptoms. They can also create a customized asthma plan to help you recognize when your symptoms are telling you to pay closer attention to your treatment. A visit to the allergist can help you identify what changes might be necessary to improve your symptoms.
The “Rule of Twos” is “too” important – Do you know the “rule of twos?” If you reply yes to any of these questions, it’s time to talk to your allergist about whether your asthma is under control.
- Do you have asthma symptoms or use your quick relief inhaler more than two times a week?
- Do you wake up at night with asthma symptoms more than two times a month?
- Do you refill a canister of your quick relief medication more than two times per year?
Also note if you:
- Have had a life-threatening asthma attack.
- Have symptoms that are unusual or hard to diagnose.
- Have hay fever or sinus infections that can complicate asthma.
- Have been admitted to a hospital because of asthma.
Immunotherapy (allergy shots) can help asthma – Asthma and allergies are closely connected. About two-thirds or more of those with asthma also have an allergy, and people who have allergies often also have asthma. Immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots or tablets can reduce sensitivity to the allergens that trigger asthma attacks and significantly reduce the severity of the disease. It might even prevent the development of asthma in some children with seasonal allergies.
There are new asthma treatments you may not know about – You may have heard about a newer type of drug called biologics but not realized they can be used to treat asthma. Asthma is one of the most common conditions for which biologics can be prescribed. While biologics don’t cure asthma, their use can lead to better control. Presently, there are five biologics approved for asthma. They are intended for severe asthma that is not responding to inhaled medications or in patients who require frequent or chronic use of oral corticosteroids like prednisone for their asthma. Talk to your allergist if you think you may meet these criteria.
To find an allergist near you who can create a personal plan to deal with your allergies and asthma, and help you live your best life, use the ACAAI allergist locator.