Information updates

COVID-19 and Allergy

3 August 2020

It is important that people with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma are using their treatments regularly and correctly, to maintain good health and prevent respiratory symptoms that can include coughing, sneezing and wheezing. 

With recent outbreaks of COVID-19 due to increased SARS-CoV-2 infections in some regions within Victoria and New South Wales, treating allergic rhinitis and asthma is particularly important for the following reasons:

  • To maintain good health by treating existing medical conditions.

  • To reduce coughing and sneezing, which can spread respiratory infections (e.g. colds, influenza or COVID-19).

  • To avoid allergy symptoms being mistaken for symptoms due to respiratory infections, including COVID-19.

Are people with allergic rhinitis and asthma at greater risk of getting COVID-19?

Most people with allergic rhinitis (hay fever), other allergies and asthma are not immunocompromised and are therefore not considered to be at greater risk of any respiratory infections, including COVID-19.

However, people with asthma (who often also have allergic rhinitis), should already be aware of the need to avoid infections and what to do if they become unwell or come in contact with any infectious disease. They are advised to follow the usual advice from their doctor. It is important that asthma and allergic rhinitis are well controlled and that inhalers or nasal sprays are used as directed by the treating doctor to reduce the impact of COVID-19 (and other infections), as much as possible.

Does wearing a face mask help?

In regions with current outbreaks, wearing of face masks are mandated (Victoria) or recommended (New South Wales), when outside the home. In other regions, people may choose to, or may be requested to wear face masks to protect themselves and others from potential infections in medical facilities, on transport, in workplaces, in stores or in public places. Information about the change in advice from the Australian government and current requirements regarding the wearing of face masks is available on the ASCIA website:

www.allergy.org.au/about-ascia/info-updates/covid-19-and-face-masks

It is important to note that the use a face mask is NOT a substitute for the following actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Hand hygiene and avoidance of touching potentially contaminated surfaces.
  • Respiratory hygiene, including cough and sneeze etiquette.
  • Staying at home when unwell, even with mild respiratory symptoms.
  • Physical/social distancing (staying >1.5 m away from others) and following government restrictions.

Can the immune system be “boosted” against infections such as COVID-19?

Despite various claims, there are currently NO recommended supplements or other agents which have been proven in conventional medical studies to boost immunity against infections such as COVID-19. Getting enough sleep, healthy eating, managing stress, regular exercise (whilst complying with government restrictions regarding physical distancing), and treating existing medical conditions to maintain good health will optimise immune system function. By combining these measures with the actions listed above, this may help reduce spread of infections, including COVID-19. 

More information about COVID-19: 

www.allergy.org.au/members/covid-19

 

 

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