Severe asthma adjustments alongside the Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) recommendations

A small proportion of people with asthma have a diagnosis of severe asthma. This is asthma which remains uncontrolled (continued poor control or frequent attacks/flare-ups) despite high-dose treatment or can only be controlled with continual high-dose treatment. People with severe asthma will use many of the same preventer and reliever medicines, however, they do not respond as well to these and often require additional treatments prescribed by a respiratory specialist.

If you have severe asthma, like those with mild or moderate asthma, you should continue to take your asthma medications as prescribed. This may include oral corticosteroids for both management of a flare-up or as a regular medication. You should not stop your oral or inhaled asthma medications without first speaking to your doctor or specialist.

If you are one of the 150,000 people in Australia who have severe asthma, you should be under the care of a respiratory specialist physician. If you have ongoing asthma symptoms or experience regular asthma attacks, you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible about what can be done about this. Your doctor will try to work with you to get your asthma on track and will refer you to a specialist if you can’t get your asthma under control.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian expert leaders in severe asthma have recommended that people with severe asthma self-isolate from others and practice strict physical distancing in doing so.  Even though people with asthma do not appear to be at great risk of COVID-19, experts believe it is important for people with severe asthma to take extra precautions. This will include working from home, schooling from home, and investigating self-care and activity routines that fit in with isolation and social distancing. This may involve online programmes for exercise or walking in non-populated areas to maintain social distancing.  Speak to your doctor about communicating with your employer, school, or community group about these recommendations to reduce the disadvantage you might worry about under these stressful circumstances.

If you are working, talk to your employer or workplace about having a risk assessment. To ease the burden faced by people with severe asthma from an employment perspective it is recommended that health care providers issue patients with a personalised letter explaining the recommendations for self-isolating, given the experts recommend extra precautions in the severe asthma group.

We understand that this health protection message can be quite stressful to hear. We reinforce that people with asthma of all severities don’t appear to be especially impacted by COVID-19 and while we’re still trying to understand why it could relate to how well people with asthma followed the public health messaging during the peaks of the crisis. This can be considered a source of reassurance as we all buckle down to continue to keep this virus at bay and away from our lives.

During these times isolated from our communities we need to pay careful attention to our emotional wellbeing. There is a range of services available online, by telephone, and via our workplaces where trained professionals are in place to listen to our concerns and provide some assistance, guidance, tips, and resources.

The following are things you can try to do to stay on top of your mental wellbeing:

  • Try to stay connected. Even by telephone and video can help. Social connectedness can help counteract negative feelings that can come on during the pandemic
  • Limit your consumption of media. Identify 2-3 trusted sources and limit how much time per day you consume news media
  • Actively try to stay on top of your wellbeing by controlling the controllable:
    • Follow expert advice, maintain good personal hygiene, keep check of your positive attitude
    • Find a routine, do things you enjoy and try new things
    • Keep perspective, manage expectations and make future plans
    • Stay physically active, eat nutritionally and limit alcohol intake

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Call 1800 ASTHMA to speak to one of our specialist Asthma Educators if you have questions.

For more information on Severe Asthma, click here.