Due to COVID-19, there is increased demand for albuterol inhalers in certain parts of the U.S., as hospitals are giving patients experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms albuterol (a quick-relief medication) to help them breathe. In response, American Lung Association Chief Medical Officer Albert Rizzo, M.D., issued the following statement:
“The American Lung Association advises patients with asthma not to ration medications. If you are running low on a prescription speak with your healthcare provider about your options so you can take your medication as prescribed. You might want to speak with your doctor to determine if switching medications helps with better availability and/or lower costs. Consider alternative devices such as nebulizers. Dosages are different among brands, so do not switch without discussing with your healthcare provider.
Optimal control of asthma is the first and best defense against infection and complications. “Any viral infection can lead to a worsening of asthma symptoms, so patients with asthma and particularly those with moderate to severe asthma are at a higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19. If your asthma is well-controlled, you may reduce your risk for developing severe complications from COVID-19. Keeping your asthma under control by working with your healthcare provider and sticking with maintenance medications is key.
“Additionally, while those who are immunocompromised are more vulnerable to the COVID-19 disease, albuterol or quick relief (rescue) inhalers do not cause the immune system to be suppressed, as some have speculated. These medications are bronchodilators and not oral corticosteroids. Bronchodilators relax the muscles in your airways when you are having symptoms. You can and should continue to use your rescue inhaler as needed for asthma symptoms.
“Communication with your healthcare provider is key, and don’t hesitate to call them if your symptoms change. Telehealth is a good and growing option for anyone with asthma or an underlying health condition. Asthma Control is still the most important thing you can do to protect your lung health. Finally, rigorously follow the CDC recommendations to reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 including social distancing: stay home, avoid others, and thoroughly and frequently wash your hands.”
More information about COVID-19 can be found at Lung.org/covid19 or the Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA. For journalists seeking to schedule a media interview with a lung health expert on COVID-19 and implications for those with asthma or other lung diseases like COPD or lung cancer, contact Stephanie Goldina at the American Lung Association at 312-801-7629 or [email protected]
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.