Risk of severe asthma attacks doubled after Covid-19 restrictions lifted
Adults with asthma had, at one point, an approximately doubled risk of a severe asthma attack after Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed in the UK, according to new research from Queen Mary University of London, funded by Barts Charity.
Episodes of progressive worsening of asthma symptoms, termed exacerbations or asthma attacks, are the major cause of illness and death in this condition. Asthma affects more than 5 million people in the UK and more than 300 million globally. Symptoms include breathlessness and chest tightness as well as wheezing and coughing.
Published in Thorax and presented at today's British Thoracic Society meeting, the research found an increased risk of these attacks after Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed. When restrictions were lifted, fewer people wore face coverings and there was more social mixing, and subsequently a higher risk of Covid-19 and other acute respiratory infections. The research also found that Covid-19 was not significantly more likely to trigger asthma attacks than other respiratory infections.
The study analysed data from 2,312 UK adults with asthma, participating in Queen Mary's COVIDENCE UK study between November 2020 and April 2022. Details on face covering use, social mixing, and asthma symptoms were collected via monthly online questionnaires.
The study is the first to compare the influence of COVID-19 versus other respiratory infections on risk of asthma exacerbations. And it is one of few studies that looks at the impact of lifting national restrictions on people with asthma.
Tydeman F, Pfeffer PE, Vivaldi G, et al, Rebound in asthma exacerbations following relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions: a longitudinal population-based study (COVIDENCE UK), Thorax Published Online First: 23 November 2022. doi: 10.1136/thorax-2022-219591
Dr. Nandita Mohan
BDS, MDS( Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry)