Old fears awakened - a view of Donegal during the coronavirus crisis and beyond by Siobhán McNamara

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Covid-19 can bring on severe respiratory symptoms

Covid-19 can bring on severe respiratory symptoms

A nebuliser which I ordered around ten days ago arrived today and I felt mightily relieved.

It’s been 17 years since I last needed one when I got a bad dose of pneumonia during pregnancy and the asthma kicked off. I have never owned a nebuliser myself as there was one in the wider family that any of us could use in an emergency. But with a virus that is known to cause severe respiratory problems doing the rounds, and two asthmatics in my household, it seemed like an obvious thing that I needed to buy.

Nebulisers look like mini ventilators. They are small, plug-in or battery operated machines that work by atomising medicine into gas which is then inhaled by the patient through a face mask or mouth piece. It gets the medicine into the lungs and bloodstream quickly while giving relief to a patient having an asthma attack or suffering from other respiratory disorders. It is much easier to take a full dose of medicine that way than with an inhaler if you are really struggling to breathe.

I say I felt relief when it arrived, and that is certainly true. But it also awakened old fears from a time when my asthma wasn’t as easily managed, fears that in truth are never far from the surface. Because not being able to breathe is very frightening, but you have to fight the fear as well as fight for breath because the panic that is trying to take hold will only make everything a whole lot worse.

If you need a nebuliser because of an infection, chances are you are already in a degree of bother, generally speaking. What it gives you is time. It helps keep your airways open until the ambulance arrives, until you get to the hospital and get specialist care.

My heart goes out to those who are suffering the severe symptoms of Covid-19 because I know that feeling all too well.  This is a frightening time for those who are severely ill, their loved ones and indeed, those who are anxious about what the next few weeks and months will bring.

The nebuliser that was delivered to my home today could literally prove to be a life saver, but I really hope that we - and the many other people with asthma and other lung conditions who have been buying them up from specialist suppliers quicker than they can be restocked - won’t need it. 

But as I already mentioned, I feel mightily relieved knowing that it is there. Just in case.

Read next: Don't leave anyone behind - A view of Donegal through the coronavirus crisis and beyond by Siobhán McNamara

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