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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Caring for Your Child With Asthma

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Caring for Your Child With Asthma

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During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, parents whose kids have asthma might wonder if their child's care will change, or there's anything special they should do. Even while people are staying home and doing social distancing, your child's care team is there to help.

How Can I Keep My Child With Asthma Safe From Coronavirus?

Keep taking care of your child's asthma. This keeps your child's lungs healthy. That way, if an infection happens, it will be easier for your child to get better.

As always, do your best to prevent asthma flare-ups.

Is My Child With Asthma More at Risk From Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Few kids have been found to have the illness. So it's hard for experts to yet know how COVID-19 might affect kids with ongoing health problems.

So far, kids with asthma aren't getting COVID-19 more often than people who don't have asthma. But asthma and COVID-19 both affect the lungs, and the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is new. So experts are still learning if people with moderate to severe asthma might be more likely to get more serious symptoms if they are infected.

To be safe, follow the advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This includes important steps to avoid infection, such as:

  • staying home and away from other people
  • washing hands well and often

Should I Take My Child to Planned Health Care Visits?

Talk to your health care provider. For regular checkups or minor symptoms, your child might be able to "see" the doctor with a telehealth visit. Some in-person visits might be needed. If so, talk to the office about how they are keeping kids and families safe. The medical staff will likely be wearing masks. You and your child might wear them also. Let your child know that masks are safe and there's no reason to be scared.

If your child is having an asthma flare-up that doesn't get better with treatment, get care as you would have done before the coronavirus pandemic. Hospitals and health care facilities are taking steps to protect patients and families. This may include separating sick and well people, wearing masks, and doing temperature checks. It is safe to get care if your child needs it.

Should I Keep Giving My Child Asthma Medicine?

Yes. Keep giving all regular asthma medicines unless the care team tells you to stop. Keep about 30 days' worth of medicine (including for inhalers and nebulizers, if needed) and other needed supplies on hand. Work with your insurance company and pharmacy or drugstore to order refills well before they run out.

Be sure to:

  • Make a schedule and stick to it. This is especially helpful for making it easier to take daily medicines.
  • Help your child follow their asthma action plan.
  • Keep giving long-term controller medicines to help avoid flare-ups. If you aren't sure which they are, call your doctor's office. If your child uses an asthma inhaler, be sure they're comfortable using it. Get a refresher from the care team, if needed.
  • Help your child avoid asthma triggers. Keep giving allergy medicines, if your child takes them. If pollen is a trigger for your child, check air quality before going outside (for instance, for exercise at a safe distance from others). If pollen will be high, stick with inside activities that day. It's still a good idea for your child to get daily physical activity. Besides helping your child to keep fit, it can ease stress, which sometimes can cause an asthma flare-up.

What if My Child Gets Sick? Could It Be COVID-19?

First, call the health care team. They know your child's health history. The doctor will ask how your child is doing and if they've been around someone with known or suspected coronavirus. Your doctor's office will tell you what to do next and whether you need an in-person visit.

Experts suggest using inhalers for someone who is sick instead of nebulizers when possible during the COVID-19 crisis. That's because nebulizers create a mist. If someone has the coronavirus and uses a nebulizer, the mist could carry the virus to others. If your child uses a nebulizer treatment, talk to your care team about whether your child should switch to an inhaler.

If your child can't use an inhaler, try not to have others in the room when using the nebulizer. Open a window or do the nebulizer on a porch for better air circulation. If you need to help your child use the nebulizer, stay behind them (not in front) during the treatment.

What Else Should I Know?

Being away from friends, missing school, and having to stay home can be stressful for any child. But strong emotions like stress can trigger an asthma flare-up. Help your child find ways to relax, stay calm, and manage stress and anxiety.

Check the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) websites for up-to-date, reliable information about coronavirus. The CDC also has information about coronavirus and people with asthma.

Reviewed by: Robert A. Heinle, MD;Alana B. Jones, DO
Date reviewed: 2020-05-12