This year’s World Asthma Day theme is “Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions”. The theme provides a call to action to address common widely held myths and misconceptions concerning asthma.
Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell and may produce extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, a whistling sound (wheezing) when you breathe out and shortness of breath.
For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance. For others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to a life-threatening asthma attack and in some cases death.
Asthma can’t be cured, but its symptoms can be controlled. Because asthma often changes over time, it’s important that you work with your doctor to track your signs and symptoms and adjust your treatment as needed.
This year’s World Asthma Day – 2021 – theme is “Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions”.
The theme provides a call to action to address common widely held myths and misconceptions concerning asthma that prevent persons with asthma from enjoying optimal benefit from the major advances in the management of this condition.
Common misconceptions surrounding asthma include:
- Asthma is a childhood disease; individuals will grow out of it as they age.
- Asthma is infectious.
- Asthma sufferers should not exercise.
- Asthma is only controllable with high dose steroids.
The truth is:
- Asthma can occur at any age (in children, adolescents, adults and elderly).
- Asthma is not infectious. However, viral respiratory infections (such as common cold and the flu) can cause asthma attacks. In children, asthma is frequently associated with allergy, but asthma which starts in adulthood is less often allergic.
- When asthma is well controlled, asthma subjects are able to exercise and even perform top sport.
- Asthma is most often controllable with low dose inhaled steroids.
Asthma and Covid-19
People with asthma (PWA) generally are considered at higher risk from respiratory infections, as is seen annually with influenza. At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, PWA were widely assumed to be at increased risk from COVID-19. However, as data emerged throughout 2020, the association between asthma and COVID-19 appeared less clear.
Reviews and studies set out to analyse evidence on the following questions:
- Is asthma associated with increased risk of acquiring SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 disease?
- Is asthma associated with hospitalization with COVID-19?
- Is asthma associated with the severity of COVID-19 outcomes?
A recent , now widely circulated study by The Lancet has revealed that available observational studies showed a reduced risk of severe COVID-19 in patients with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and it was thus hypothesised that inhaled corticosteroids might have a protective role in SARS-CoV-2 infection. To date, no clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of inhaled corticosteroids have been published.
The majority of interventions studied for the COVID-19 pandemic are focused on hospitalised patients. Which means mild and asymptomatic cases cannot be evaluated or analysed due to lack of reporting.
Whether asthma increases risk of infection or severe outcomes from COVID-19 remains unclear.
Systematic reviews do not detect a clear increase in risk. High-quality primary studies report conflicting results in some areas; considerable uncertainty persists. Within PWA with COVID-19, people with comorbid COPD and people with non-allergic (compared to allergic) asthma appear more vulnerable to worse outcomes.
Some data suggests an increased risk in people with more severe asthma. Further primary studies and comprehensive meta-analyses are needed.