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Researchers find that asthma does not increase the severity of covid-19

Published on:6 July 2020, 15:28pm IST
How are people with compromised respiratory systems affected by covid-19? Well, this research which studied asthma patients has pertinent answers.
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Research reveals asthma does not seem to increase the risk of covid-19. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock
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A team of Rutgers researchers suggest that asthma does not increase your risk of contracting covid-19 or influence its severity. This research was recently published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Reynold A Panettieri Jr., a pulmonary critical care physician and director of the Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Science and co-author of the paper says: “Older age and conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and obesity are reported risk factors for the development and progression of covid-19.”

“However, people with asthma—even those with diminished lung function who are being treated to manage asthmatic inflammation—seem to be no worse affected by SARS-CoV-2 than a non-asthmatic person. There is limited data as to why this is the case—if it is physiological or a result of the treatment to manage the inflammation,” he added.

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Asthma doesn’t increase the risk of covid-19 . Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How is SARS-CoV-2 awareness going to affect the health of people with asthma?
As the news draws our attention to the effects of covid-19 in vulnerable populations, those with asthma may become hyper-vigilant about personal hygiene and social distancing. Those who have voluntarily quarantined themselves are not as exposed to seasonal triggers that include allergens or respiratory viruses. This helps ensure asthma control.

People are also being more attentive to taking their asthma medication during the pandemic and this can prove to contribute to their overall health.

What could be the effects of asthma medicines on covid-19 outcomes?
Inhaled corticosteroids, which are commonly used to protect against asthma attacks, also may reduce the virus’ ability to establish an infection. However, studies also suggest that these steroids may lead to a decline in the body’s immune response and further deterioration of inflammatory response.

Steroids could also delay the clearing of the SARS and MERS virus (which happen to be similar to SARS-CoV-2) from the respiratory tract and thus may worsen covid-19 outcomes.

Future studies need to answer questions about the effects of inhaled steroids in patients with asthma or allergies. Whether it would lead to an increase or decrease in the risks of SARS-CoV-2 infection and whether these effects will differ depending upon the type of steroid being consumed.

Lung
Lung damage may be inevitable in covid-19. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Does age play a role in asthma patients’ reaction to exposure to the virus?
A person’s susceptibility to covid-19 and the severity of infection magnifies with age. Most asthma sufferers tend to be younger than those who are with reported high-risk conditions.

Children and young adults with asthma suffer mainly from allergic inflammation. On the other hand, older adults who experience the same type of airway inflammation can also suffer from eosinophilic asthma, which is a more severe form.

In cases as such, people experience abnormally high levels of a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infection, which can cause inflammation in the airways, sinuses, nasal passages and lower respiratory tract, potentially making them more at risk for a serious case of covid-19.

Additionally, an enzyme attached to the cell membranes in the lungs, arteries, heart, kidney and intestines that have been shown to be an entry point for SARS-CoV-2 into cells multiplies in response to the virus. The presence of this enzyme can also prove to be beneficial in clearing other respiratory viruses, more so in children. How SARS-CoV-2 infects people with asthma affected by this enzyme is yet to be made clear.

An asthmatic and a non-asthmatic person are equally at risk of the disease. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What could increase a person with asthma’s risk of infection?
If SARS-CoV-2 is a disease that causes dysfunction in the cells that line blood vessels throughout the body, then diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other diseases associated with this condition may make people more susceptible to the virus than those who are asthmatic.

However, older people with asthma who also tend to have high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease may have to face increased risks of covid-19 as compared to non-asthmatics with those conditions.

(With inputs from ANI)

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