With Omicron now in our community, it’s important for all of us to be as prepared as possible, and to know what to do should we test positive. If you have asthma, it’s even more important to have a plan in place. Here are some tips for managing your respiratory condition with Omicron.
To stay protected: Get vaccinated and boosted
Vaccination will greatly decrease your risk of getting severely ill with COVID-19. However, your immunity levels drop over time, and getting a booster has been shown to top them back up. It’s a good idea to get your booster as soon as you’re eligible. If you’re over 18 and it’s been more than three months since your second shot, you can go for your booster now.
While there is no indication that Omicron poses any more threat than previous COVID variants, it is more easily spread. Try to minimise your risk as far as possible through precautions like wearing a mask in enclosed spaces and outdoors where you can’t maintain physical distancing, practicing good hand hygiene, and keeping indoor spaces well-ventilated if possible.
Asthma or Omicron?
Omicron can cause symptoms like shortness of breath and coughing, which can be similar to asthma symptoms. However, there are often additional symptoms, like fever, sore throat, fatigue and changes in taste and smell, which are more indicative of a COVID infection. If you have symptoms of any kind, it’s important to get a COVID test.
If you test positive:
Stay at home
It’s vital that you self-isolate while you have COVID. This means staying home, and distancing from others in your home as much as possible. You will need to self-isolate for at least 10 days.
Keep taking all your regular medications
Make sure you have a good supply of your medication, and keep taking it as normal. If you have been forgetting to take your preventer inhaler, you should restart taking it. This will help prevent your asthma symptoms from flaring up, and it’s perfectly safe to continue taking your preventer and reliever as normal while you have COVID. Bear in mind that your reliever might not help with breathlessness and coughing caused by COVID rather than asthma. If you feel your symptoms getting worse, seek medical assistance.
Follow your Asthma Action Plan
It’s so important to have an Asthma Action Plan in place, and even more so if you’re unwell with a respiratory infection like Omicron. Having your plan up-to-date will help you keep track of your symptoms and medications, and know what to do if your symptoms get worse. You can download a free Asthma Action Plan on the Resources tab of the Foundation’s website – asthmafoundation.org.nz
Will COVID make my asthma worse?
It’s possible that you could feel worse with COVID if you’re already struggling to breathe. However, if your asthma is well controlled, you shouldn’t be at any additional risk from COVID infection. If you do feel your asthma symptoms worsening, you must seek medical attention.
Long COVID and asthma
When you’re recovering from COVID, it’s important to know the difference between your asthma symptoms and your COVID symptoms. Asthma is more likely to cause wheeze, cause a change in your peak flow reading, and respond to your reliever medication. Keep treating your asthma symptoms as usual. If your COVID symptoms don’t seem to be clearing after a few weeks, speak with your health professional. They’ll be able to assess whether you might have long COVID and determine what care you need going forward.
For more information about COVID-19 and asthma, head to our website:
or the Ministry of Health website https://covid19.govt.nz/
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