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Wear The Gown: COVID-19 can make asthma symptoms worse in children

COVID can cause long-lasting lung damage. Symptoms could be worse for those with asthma. Here's what parents can do to protect their kids.

SAN ANTONIO — When a parent thinks about their child and the coronavirus they often think about the lungs because that is the main organ the disease attacks. And if you add asthma into the mix it can be rather scary. 

In 2020, an expert panel from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute implemented new guidelines for asthma management. But it all starts with having an asthma action plan.

"Our asthma action plan really gives the school and the parent a plan for when their asthma is acting up," said Dr. Mandie Svatek, a pediatric hospitalist at University Hospital with University Health. She says both kids and adults need to pay attention to how the child is feeling.

Dr. Svatek added, "The important thing is that we continue to teach them how to recognize when they have increased symptoms."

An asthma action plan is based on SMART therapy, or single maintenance and reliever therapy. It starts with the green zone. "If you are in the Green Zone, you are breathing well, you have no problems," Dr. Svatek said. "You use that first medication that is prescribed."

If the condition worsens that's when you end up in the yellow zone. Dr. Svatek told us, "If you are in the yellow zone, that means that you need to ramp up your medications or add an additional medication."

The red zone is when serious and immediate action needs to be taken. Dr. Svatek said, "If you are in the red zone, that means that you probably need to seek medical care and to also increase your rescue medication even further."

Something that is fairly new is all-in-one therapy which incorporates a steroid you inhale plus a longer-acting beta-agonist. "Only using that one inhaler with your spacer, that really helps and gets that medication in and can help them breathe a lot easier and control some of their symptoms that they're having," Dr. Svatek added.

Dr. Svatek says when it comes to COVID, they are not seeing a higher hospitalization rate or death rate in comparison to some of the other diseases that have a higher risk if you get COVID. But just like any virus, COVID can still increase asthma symptoms.

For more information about family health call 210-358-3045. You can also find the rest of Wear The Gown stories, just go to WearTheGown.com.