Continuing Medical Education

Viral infections, COVID-19 and asthma: Preventing viral exacerbations of asthma

R J Green


Asthmatics are particularly vulnerable to viral illnesses, which cause the vast majority of asthma exacerbations. The most common viruses responsible for these exacerbations are the human rhinovirus and influenza virus. Influenza vaccine provides a reasonable prevention strategy for influenza infection, but there is not an effective vaccine against the rhinovirus. This is a major reason for effective control of chronic asthma and strategies to prevent viral upper-respiratory tract infections in asthmatics. COVID-19 does not appear to be more severe in asthmatics, especially if they are well controlled. This virus also does not seem to be more common in asthmatics. However, in times of pandemic virus diseases, it is necessary that asthma and allergic rhinitis are well controlled. It is important to distinguish COVID-19 from asthma exacerbations, because the treatments differ. Asthma therapies are not contraindicated in COVID-19-infected patients, as adverse events do not occur in this group.

Author's affiliations

R J Green, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2021;111(5):400-401. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2021.v111i5.15707

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-04-30
Date published: 2021-04-30

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