By: Dr. Maria Fernandez Falcon, pediatrician at UT Health Physicians
COVID-19 has spread around the world; it can affect anyone, from young children to seniors. Scientists are still learning about how the virus behaves and the characteristics of this infection. But despite the unknowns, there are actions we can take and habits we can teach our children to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Based on available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) observed that patients with chronic conditions, such as asthma, could be at higher risk of COVID-19 infection. Asthma is one of the most common chronic conditions in children, and those with uncontrolled asthma who contract COVID-19 can become very sick and require emergency treatment.
According to the CDC, the most effective steps to avoid the spread of a virus are:
- Frequent hand washing
- Maintaining a safe social distance
- Wearing a face covering that covers your nose and mouth
- Avoiding contact with sick people
Dr. Philip Owusu-Ansah and Dr. Franziska Rosser, from the American Academy of Pediatrics, in a recent article about asthma during the pandemic, offer additional steps to help prevent asthma attacks in children.
- Create and follow an asthma action plan for your child
- Provide caregivers, school nurses and teachers a copy of your child’s asthma action plan
- Refill asthma medications before they run out
- Take asthma and allergy medications as prescribed
- Avoid known and common asthma triggers such as smoke, indoor/outdoor allergens, stress and viral infections like seasonal cold, flu and COVID-19
- Help your child practice mindfulness to reduce stress
- Stay in contact with your child’s pediatrician to discuss concerns or questions
Dr. Owusu-Ansah and Dr. Rosser emphasize the importance of creating and following an asthma action plan created with your child’s physician, ensuring you have asthma medications on-hand and giving them to your child as prescribed. An asthma action plan is created by your child’s physician and provides caregivers, school nurses and teachers information and instructions on how to best manage your child’s asthma symptoms. Other important steps to reduce asthma complications include avoidance of common triggers such as second-hand smoke, indoor and outdoor allergens, stress and viral infections like seasonal cold, flu and COVID-19.
Additional preventive actions you can take include keeping your house clean and well ventilated, living in a smoke-free environment, taking allergy medications as recommended, getting the annual flu vaccine, practicing good hand hygiene, wearing a face cover, social distancing, avoiding people who are ill and practicing mindfulness to reduce stress.
Your child’s health care provider is available to help manage their asthma, create an asthma action plan and care for them if they do become ill. Follow-up visits for asthma education, action plans and medication refills are important and can often be held through a telemedicine or video appointment.
The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to take children to their well-child visits and keep their immunizations up to date. Remember, vaccines prevent your child from life-threatening infections and protect friends and family who, for different reasons, cannot be immunized (newborns, immunocompromised patients, patients with allergic reactions to vaccines).
During this pandemic, we all need to work together to protect our families, our friends and our community. It is very important to stay connected with your child’s pediatrician or health provider and talk with them about any questions or concerns you have.
At UT Health Physicians, we are committed to keeping patients of all ages healthy. Quick, safe pediatric and adult appointments are available right now by video and in-person. Call 210-450-6120 for an appointment, or visit UTHealthCare.org/PrimaryCare to request an appointment online.
Coronavirus Disease 2019. People with Moderate to Severe Asthma. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/asthma....
Philip Owusu-Ansah MD, MPH, FAAP and Franziska Rosser MD, MPH, FAAP. Caring for Children with Asthma During COVID-19: Parent FAQs. Heathy Children.org. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-1...