Did you know that community-acquired pneumonia (a disease catched from outside a hospital environment) is the infection that causes the largest number of deaths in Europe? It causes about 230 000 deaths in Europe every year, and the current COVID-19 epidemic will only make the situation worse. That’s why the theme for World Lung Day 2020 is respiratory infections.
Most COVID-19 patients recover from the disease at home, but around one in five get a serious infection and difficulty breathing. Many are also left with persistent symptoms even after recovery. Older patients and patients with underlying medical problems are at higher risk of developing a severe coronavirus disease: for example, those with COPD seem to have a higher risk for COVID-19 complications, which can also lead to death.
It also seems that exposure to air pollution increases the risk of COVID-19 death. Caused by global warming and urbanization, the declining air quality and increasing amounts of air pollution are also known to be linked with the emergence of other chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma, COPD and lung cancer. When untreated or in poor treatment balance, they increase the risk of a serious respiratory infection. That’s why patients with chronic lung conditions should aim for a good treatment balance by following their personal treatment plan as advised by healthcare professionals.
How to prevent COVID-19 and other respiratory infections when having a chronic respiratory condition:
- Follow your asthma action plan or other self-management plan: take your medication as advised by your doctor
- Monitor your long condition regularly e.g. with a peak flow meter or KAMU Spiro and track your symptoms, use of medication and triggers
- Wash your hands carefully and regularly and avoid touching your nose, eyes or mouth
- Cough and sneeze in your sleeve or a tissue
- Avoid big crowds and keep distance between yourself and other people
- Wear a mask according to the recommendations of your local authorities, if possible
- Keep an eye on your local weather and air quality forecasts, e.g. with KAMU Asthma app. You can, for example, try and plan your outdoor activities and routes so that you avoid the most polluted areas