Asthma patients are more at-risk of COVID-19, should protect their health

Dr Karen Gells says patients should contact their physician now if they are experiencing issues with symptoms
Posted at 3:36 PM, Mar 12, 2020

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A West Michigan allergy specialist is urging all asthma patients to stay vigilantly on top of their health until the threat of COVID-19 subsides.

“Many infections will start with the upper respiratory tract and we know that in the asthmatic population, if we don't clear that up, we won't have much control of clearing the lung off," Dr Karen Gell told FOX 17 Thursday morning.

Dr Gell says health problems can quickly compound for patients who do contract the virus and have not been properly managing their asthma.

"It gets easy to over read everything. But most of us know how to take care of ourselves," Dr Gell said.

She says the best thing those with asthma or other respiratory ailments can do is to know their baseline health, to know how you usually feel when you are taking care of your health.

"It's really important for the whole airway to be in good shape,” Dr Gell said.

If you find yourself having to use your rescue inhaler more than 2 times a week, it may be time to re-visit your plan of action in terms of managing your symptoms. Contact your physician if you are not feeling as good as you think you should be.

“It’s use your judgment. But if you're an asthmatic that's unstable particularly, that may be a reason to kind of more stay home and hunker down,” Dr Gell Said.

If you aren't feeling well, stay home, she says. If you contract COVID-19 as someone with asthma, they will treat your asthma to make sure your immune system is as strong as possible to fight off the virus.

But how do you differentiate the symptoms of asthma from those of COVID-19?

Dr Gell said, “the cough may be a little bit more dry in COVID. Again, more of a mucousy, wet cough could be a little bit more associated with asthma... and fever generally over 100... And then just shortness of breath. And that's the thing that we'll really be watching for, how short of breath does someone get?"

If you do have reason to believe you need COVID-19 testing, you should call your doctor's office ahead of visiting. They may be able to see you through a tele-medicine service.