Asthma does not increase the risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Research indicates that asthma does not raise children’s risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

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Coronaviruses cause a range of illnesses, including COVID-19. These illnesses typically affect the respiratory system.

COVID-19 affects people of all ages, but children are not as likely to become seriously ill or die from the disease as adults.

This article looks at the links between pediatric asthma and COVID-19, whether having one condition increases the risk of developing the other, and the risks of severe disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with moderate to severe asthma are more likely to become severely ill and require hospitalization if they develop COVID-19. This association is more likely in nonallergic asthma than types of asthma with allergic triggers.

Initially, researchers expected children with asthma to have a high risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. However, research now shows that they are less likely to be at high risk of severe illness than adults.

However, some children may still have additional risk factors that can increase their risk. Parents or caregivers should consult a doctor if they have concerns about their child’s asthma and the risks of COVID-19.

Possible protection

Certain mechanisms that occur in pediatric asthma may support the body in fighting the virus. These could offer some protection against COVID-19.

A 2021 study suggests that having asthma may protect children from COVID-19, as pediatric asthma may promote the following:

  • Type 2 immune response: This works by activating and regulating cells that fight off harmful cells.
  • High levels of eosinophils: An eosinophil is a type of white blood cell that fights off infection. They protect the body from respiratory viruses by:
    • releasing cytotoxic proteins and nitric oxide
    • producing type 1 cytokines
    • recruiting cytotoxic T cells
  • Increased mucus production: This can support the immune system by creating a wall of defense against infection. It can also block the SARS-CoV-2 virus from entering the lungs.
  • Asthma control treatment

The CDC lists moderate to severe asthma as a risk factor for severe disease from COVID-19. However, asthma does not appear to increase the likelihood of contracting SARS-CoV-2 through household contacts.

A person with asthma should have a personal asthma action plan to help keep their condition under control. This plan contains information to suggest what someone with the condition should do in certain situations.

If a person with asthma becomes ill, they should refer to their asthma action plan to assess what to do. They should also avoid any asthma triggers that they are aware of to reduce the likelihood of their condition worsening. Nonallergic asthma triggers can include:

  • viral infections
  • air pollution
  • participating in physical activity

For further information, a person can explore the latest COVID-19 guidance.

Adults with asthma may have a greater risk of developing serious illnesses from COVID-19. Therefore, doctors recommend vaccination to reduce the risk of severe disease. Individuals can discuss these options with their healthcare professionals.

The risk of developing more severe symptoms is greater, but adults and children with asthma have the same preventive measures.

The main method of avoiding serious illness is to continue managing asthma as usual by taking regular medications and following an asthma action plan if necessary.

Asthma control treatments, such as inhaled corticosteroids, can reduce the risk of COVID-19 as they restrict viral replication and limit the body from producing too many cytokines, which can increase the severity of the illness.

If a person finds their prescribed treatment is not relieving their symptoms, they should consult a doctor to reduce the risk of further illness or complications.

People with asthma should continue the measures they usually take to keep their condition under control. This includes continuing to take controller medications to avoid worsening their asthma.

Read more about controlling asthma with medication.

The CDC reinforces that people should be up to date with recommended COVID-19 vaccinations and wear an appropriate face mask or respirator, such as N95 or KN95 models, to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Learn more about the types of masks to protect from COVID-19.

Those who want extra precautions can choose to avoid public spaces and large gatherings, but there is no guarantee or scientific evidence that this will prevent infection.

People can also speak with their doctor to discuss their concerns about COVID-19.

Adults with moderate to severe asthma have a higher risk of developing serious illnesses due to COVID-19. However, children with asthma have a much lower risk.

Research suggests that it may be possible that some features of pediatric asthma may protect children from COVID-19. This is because certain mechanisms can support the body against the virus. Additionally, asthma control medications may restrict the virus from spreading within the body.

People with asthma can reduce the risk of COVID-19 by continuing the usual steps to manage their condition, such as taking asthma control medication and receiving vaccinations.