West River ENT & Allergy

Allergies, Asthma, and COVID-19 Anxiety

In the past two years, COVID-19 has provoked anxiety throughout the world as people have worried they and their loved ones would get the virus and suffer tragic consequences. Most people personally know someone who has been hospitalized due to COVID, and many people sadly also know someone who passed away because of the virus.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, two studies have been conducted focusing on people who suffer from severe allergies or asthma. The first study showed that people with allergies and asthma were very concerned about COVID. Because coronavirus is a respiratory virus, it is logical and natural that many people with asthma and allergies were concerned about the illness. The CDC also believed that people with asthma may be at greater risk for serious illness due to COVID.

The study was conducted using survey results from 873 adults diagnosed with asthma. Among those individuals, almost 57 percent had a self-reported asthma attack during the pandemic, 29 percent contacted their medical provider due to urgent symptoms, and 43 percent had uncontrolled asthma. Nearly 48 percent of respondents had a high anxiety score, and those with higher anxiety scores were more likely to have uncontrolled asthma. The findings show that adults with chronic respiratory conditions like asthma had greater physical and mental symptoms during COVID than others. The study illustrates that in addition to the physical symptoms caused by the virus, the mental burden of anxiety due to the pandemic also affected people who suffer from asthma.

The second study was conducted in May and June of 2020 and examined 293 questionnaires completed by Canadian parents of children with food allergies. In contrast to the first study, the second study showed decreased anxiety. This is because the study focused on food allergy-specific anxiety (FAA). 42 percent of respondents reported decreased FAA attributable to COVID-19, 30 percent said they had experienced no change in their level of FAA, and only 28 percent reported increased FAA. When asked about general stress and anxiety related to COVID, 67 percent of participants said they felt increased stress and anxiety.

Researchers believe those with food allergies experienced lower levels of food allergy-specific anxiety during the pandemic because it was, in some ways, easier to control food allergies during that time. With local and national quarantines shutting down schools and workplaces, parents did not need to worry as much about their children experiencing a food allergy reaction while at school or out to eat. On the other hand, however, some reported increased FAA because food shortages made it more difficult to acquire safe foods and ingredients to prevent allergic reactions.

Now, more than two years since the pandemic began, overall anxiety levels regarding COVID have dropped throughout the country. This is thanks in large part to the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines. However, it is still a good idea to protect your health by practicing preventive measures. Wash your hands frequently, stay up to date on vaccine boosters, practice physical distancing, and consider wearing a face mask. While recent strains of COVID have resulted in less severe symptoms for many people, you never know how your body will react to the virus until you have the illness. The safest route is prevention.

For more information about the relationship between COVID-19 and allergies and asthma, we welcome you to contact us today at West River ENT & Allergy.

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