Asthma and Covid-19

Right now, with Covid-19 around, there is a need to think about protecting those with lung conditions such as asthma who are at risk of more severe disease.  It is important to avoid this infection, but if a child does encounter it, it is important to give them the best chance of recovering quickly by optimising the management of their asthma.

The best prevention is regular hand washing and avoiding contact with others who are unwell.  Strict adherence to the Covid-19 recommendations are important.  There is no confirmed community outbreak of Covid-19, so these precautions are preventative measures only and no cause for alarm.


What should I do?

If your child has asthma and usually has a regular puffer (or preventer) to keep it under control, now is the time to make sure that you continue to give this regularly.  Some children have their asthma controlled by a tablet medication called montelukast.

It is easy for us to forget to give the regular asthma medication when our children are well.  There are many children who only need to have their preventer over the winter which has not arrived for us yet.

So, now is the time to re-start the regular preventer if it has been prescribed for your child.  Usually the puffer is orange or brown in colour (flixitide or Qvar for example).  Locate your reliever which is usually blue in colour (Ventolin or bricanyl) and have this to hand if your child needs it.

The preventer medication works while we are well, to make sure the lungs can recover from an asthma attack which can be triggered by viruses (though viruses are not the only triggers).  It is important to give this medication when our children are well to have the best effect, and not to wait until they have symptoms of cough, runny nose or wheeze.


How to give the medication

Children should use a spacer to have their inhaler medication, so it may be time to dust that off.  If the spacer hasn’t been used in a while, it should be rinsed in soapy water and left to drip dry to make sure the medication doesn’t stick to the sides of the spacer, and is breathed into the lungs where it should have its action. 

The only exceptions are much older children who may have Symbicort – or a turbohaler, or another dry powder device to deliver their medication.  This sort of puffer should only have been prescribed to an older child with a good ability to suck effectively, to enable the powdered medication to be delivered effectively to the lungs.


Asthma Action plan

Many of you will have an action plan to help you manage your child’s asthma.  I have attached a copy below.

If your child has had severe asthma requiring hospital admissions, then your doctor may have given your child oral steroid (usually in the form of prednisolone) to use.


Other measures

This is the time to consider influenza vaccine to prevent your child getting influenza, it is free to children with asthma.  While this vaccine does not prevent against Covid-19, it would reduce the chance of co-infection which could be far worse for your child.


In summary

Wash your hands frequently, cough in your elbow and stay away from others who are unwell.  Locate your child’s asthma medications and re-start them.  Consider the influenza vaccine.


Good resources

Asthma action plan

NZ Asthma Foundation

Ministry of Health NZ