Donegal’s 12,408 people with asthma advised to ‘self-separate’ to reduce Covid-19 risk

Asthma Society offers advice and support to asthma and COPD sufferers

Asthma

Asthma Society issues advice and support regarding coronavirus

Those with chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma are among those advised by the HSE to ‘self-separate’ to reduce their risk of contracting Covid-19.

The Asthma Society has issued advice for people with asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). It has also added a new Frequently Asked Questions section to its website concerning coronavirus.

CEO Sarah O’Connor said: “We have been inundated with calls from individuals with asthma and COPD who are extremely worried about how coronavirus will affect them if they get it and what additional precautions they can take to minimise their chances of contracting the virus. 

“Unfortunately, international data indicates if people with asthma and other respiratory conditions contract coronavirus, the health impact can be more severe; they are more likely to experience complications and to need hospital treatment.”

The organisation is urging people with asthma to be extra vigilant in their asthma management and to follow the advice set out by the HSE. 

Ms O’Connor said: “We have communicated to the HSE the needs and very acute concerns of respiratory patients. We welcome increased engagement from the HSE with patient organisations in the last 24 hours and updated advice that has been provided for people in vulnerable groups, such as those with a long-term respiratory illness.

“We have urged the HSE to develop specific COVID-19 advice for people with long-term respiratory illnesses, as has already been created for other disease areas, like cancer. 

“People need to know that they are doing everything in their power to manage their illness and protect themselves from coronavirus. They also need reassurance that they will receive the healthcare they need and that employers will recognise their particular vulnerability at this time. Healthcare professionals also need leadership on clinical best practice. This guidance is best provided by the HSE.”

The Asthma Society is extending the hours of service of its COPD and Asthma Adviceline to meet increased demand. The free service is available on 1800 44 54 64. The helpline is experiencing unprecedented demand and all calls cannot be answered immediately, especially over the weekend. But the organisation said it will return every call if a voicemail is left with contact details.  

“We will do everything we can to continue to inform, support, advise and reassure people with asthma or COPD and their families on our website, social media channels and through our other services,” said Ms O’Connor. 

For safety reasons, Asthma in the Pharmacy nurse clinics for March have been deferred, with a decision to be made on April clinics in coming days. 

“We ask that patients follow the HSE’s guidance at this time and that they stay safe and look after themselves and their families at this time,” said Ms O’Connor.

The website www.asthma.ie includes up-to-date information on how best to manage respiratory conditions and coronavirus. 

The most important thing that people with asthma or COPD can do is to ensure that their underlying condition is well managed.

The Asthma Society’s top tips for managing the condition:

  • Take your preventer inhaler as prescribed. This will decrease your risk suffering an asthma attack and reduce your asthma symptoms. Check out the Asthma Society’s information on preventer inhalers here and our recent SafetyCare campaign here
  • Have an up-to-date Asthma Action Plan which will help you recognise when your asthma is deteriorating – download one her
  • Have an up-to-date Communications Card which will help you manage your COPD – download one here
  • Always carry your reliever inhaler (usually blue) with you in case of an asthma emergency – reliever inhaler over-reliance
  • Know the 5 Step Rule – which will help you manage an asthma attack if one occurs – download our Asthma Attack Card here
  • Know your asthma triggers in order to avoid them where possible – check out our information on asthma triggers here
  • Ensure you are practicing proper inhaler technique – check our Inhaler Technique page for demonstrations of all the inhalers on the Irish market here
  • If your inhaler requires a spacer, we recommend you use one to ensure best medication delivery – check out our information on spacer usage here
  • Do not smoke and avoid areas where smoke is present if possible
  • If you feel like your symptoms are deteriorating, or if you are experiencing a “new” fever or “new” cough - call your GP as soon as possible and they will support and advise you
  • Get your prescription filled to ensure you have enough medication for one month – the Department of Health and Irish Pharmacy Union have assured us that there is no need to stock up beyond that
  • The Asthma Society can email any of the above resources to patients if they email a request to nurse@asthma.ie.

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