As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise across the globe, it is still unclear how to treat the infection.
Most healthy people who catch the infection are expected to recover at home without complications; however, asthmatic patients are at greater risk of developing a serious illness, according to the CDC.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) says, “People with asthma have concerns about the steroids in their asthma inhalers weakening their immune system.”
However, pulmonologists and asthma specialists say that patients with asthma should keep using their preventive inhalers all the time, even during this ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Allergist–immunologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and a member of AAFA Dr. Mitchell Grayson said, “People with asthma need their [preventive] steroids.”
Dr. Michael Blaiss of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) also advised people to use their preventive inhalers.
He told Medscape Medical News, “If a patient has asthma they need to stay on their preventive asthma medication, which in most cases would include inhaled corticosteroids.”
Some experts say that controlling asthma is the first weapon while fighting against the infection.
Connecticut-based pulmonologist Dr. David Hill told Medscape Medical News, “The last thing we want is patients stopping their asthma medicine and getting acutely ill.”
“We don’t want people coming to the hospital because they stopped adhering to their therapy out of fear that the therapy was going to cause a problem,” he added.
Dr. Hill, who is a spokesperson for the American Lung Association (ALA), continued, “If you have asthma and you are sick and you’re bronchospastic and wheezing that’s a reason to use steroids.”
However, there have been growing concerns that corticosteroids worsen COVID-19 infection. In fact, the CDC and the WHO have said that “corticosteroids are to be avoided” during treatment in the general population infected with the coronavirus.
Last month, a commentary was published in the Lancet, stating, “This current consensus that there is no reason to expect that patients [in general] with COVID-19 infection will benefit from corticosteroids, and they might be more likely to be harmed with such treatment.”
Dr. Clark Russell from the University of Edinburgh, UK, explained that corticosteroids may inhibit immune responses and pathogen clearance of coronavirus, which is why they are not advised during coronavirus treatment.
Another expert from China noted that the use of prolonged, high-dose corticosteroids is a major risk factor for coronavirus death. Dr. Russell and his team said, “We conclude that corticosteroid treatment should not be used for the treatment of COVID-19–induced lung injury or shock outside of a clinical trial.”