Asthma advice during the COVID - flu shots and allergic rhinitis treatments

The National Asthma Council Australia has provided some additional advice during this COVID-19 health emergency, specifically for the 2.7 million people who suffer from asthma. They have focussed on two key areas that are easily attainable:

Early uptake of the flu shot

The vaccination season commenced on the 4th April and those who are at most risk are urged to make appointments with their general practitioner or pharmacist to access their annual flu shot.  The National Asthma Council Australia is urging people with asthma to take extra care when any type of respiratory illness is spreading in the community, including both COVID-19 and influenza.

National Asthma Council CEO Siobhan Brophy says seasonal colds and flu are typically the main trigger for serious and life-threatening asthma flare-ups. “Receiving a vaccination from April, ahead of the peak influenza period, will help protect your health,”

Ms Brophy says. “While we are still learning about how COVID-19 affects people with asthma, it’s likely that if your lungs are already sensitive, you could be left open to a more severe case or trigger a serious asthma flare-up.

Getting a combination of both COVID-19 and influenza could be really dangerous.” Ms Brophy says making sure your asthma is as well managed as possible is crucial to reduce the risk of an asthma attack being triggered by a virus.

“This means strictly following your asthma plan and doctor’s advice so your lungs are in their best shape possible should an infection come,” Ms Brophy says.

“It’s important to stick to a good routine of taking your preventer inhaler every day as prescribed to keep your asthma under control. Keep your reliever inhaler with you all the time so you can use it if your symptoms get worse.

Review of your Allergic Rhinitis Treatment

Allergic rhinitis is an allergic response that may result in itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and other similar symptoms – it is commonly thought of as hay fever but people may suffer from this seasonally or year round.

National Asthma Council CEO Siobhan Brophy says achieving good asthma control is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s more important than ever for health professionals to help patients manage their asthma, so their respiratory system is in the best possible shape should they encounter an infection like COVID-19 or seasonal influenza,” Ms Brophy says.

“Poorly managed allergic rhinitis can make asthma more difficult to control. A comprehensive approach to asthma management includes investigation for allergic rhinitis and effective treatment.”

To assist people to manage their Allergic Rhinitis Treatment and have valuable discussions with their health care provider, the National Asthma Council Australia has released an updated version of their Allergic Rhinitis Treatments Chart.

The chart provides a visual reference tool to help health professionals explain the range and types of nasal treatments available for allergic rhinitis, which affects about three in four people with asthma.

The latest version of the Allergic Rhinitis Treatments Chart includes the main nasal treatment options available in Australia.

Health professionals can download free copies of the chart from the National Asthma Council website, along with a suite of resources to help manage allergic rhinitis and asthma including the Allergic Rhinitis Pad and information paper. How-to videos demonstrating correct technique for nasal sprays are also freely available on the website.

The chart was developed independently by the National Asthma Council Australia, with untied support from Mylan Health and Care Pharmaceuticals.

Health professionals can find information on managing allergic rhinitis in people with asthma, and on managing asthma during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Australian Asthma Handbook.

Extra information

  • Earlier in March we provided an update on ‘Pregnancy Asthma advice during the COVID-19 emergency’ from the National Asthma Council. You can read that news item here
  • Read more from the National Asthma Council here

For Midwives

If you are providing care for a woman with asthma, check to make sure her asthma plan is up to date including a review of any allergic rhinitis as required, refer her to her GP if it needs reviewing or you have any concerns, talk with her about the flu vaccination and steps to stay healthy during the coming winter months.

Professional Development

If you wish to learn more about asthma management during pregnancy check out the ACM webinar  - Asthma Management presented by Tanya Raineri, Program Manager, Health Services with Asthma Foundation Queensland. Link here