(Prepared with Respiratory Specialist, Dr John Blakey)

The increase in the number of people with COVID-19 in the community is causing some stress and anxiety for many people with asthma and/or COPD.  There are a number of things you can do to decrease the impact of the virus and maintain your respiratory health, as detailed below.


  • Most people with asthma and COPD put up with frequent symptoms and think this is normal. Aim for excellent control now, and you’ll cope better with COVID-19 or other infections.
    • If you use your reliever more than twice per week, or you ever wake at night because of your chest, your control could be better.


Get the most from your inhalers

  • Make sure you are taking a preventer inhaler, drugs like salbutamol (Ventolin) don’t reduce your risk of becoming very unwell.
    • Ensure you are using your preventer as prescribed. You won’t get the full benefit otherwise.
      • If you get side effects from your inhaler or it is hard to use, please talk to your GP or Respiratory Care WA about an alternative.
      • Check your medications are in date.  
      • Check your devices such as your spacer to make sure they are clean and working properly. If you aren’t sure, speak to your doctor, pharmacist or the team at Respiratory Care WA.
      • Get your device technique checked by Respiratory Care WA’s Respiratory Health Team. Even if you have done this in the past, its common to pick up some bad habits and a small adjustment can make an enormous difference to how effective your medication is.

Think of your other risk factors

  • There’s never a bad time to stop smoking, but the risk of serious COVID-related illness in smokers might be the additional motivation you need.
    • Don’t smoke cannabis or vape, either. Both of these are harmful to the lungs.
  • Being overweight is a serious risk factor for asthma attacks and being sick from COVID-19. Even a small amount of weight loss is helpful if your BMI is high.
  • Make sure your hayfever type symptoms are well treated: viruses and bacteria almost always infect the nose before the chest, and having hayfever makes it easier for them.


  • Check you have enough medication to last you a month. If you have to isolate for a period of time, you’ll then be covered. Also check you have a prescription on hand so you can refill your medication when the time comes.
  • Make sure your Asthma or COPD Action Plan is up to date so you know what to do if you become unwell. If it has been longer than a year or your symptoms or medications have changed, your Action Plan needs to be updated.
  • It doesn’t feel like it, but autumn will be here soon. Be mindful of additional colds and viruses, and book in to get your flu vaccination when it becomes available. You may also consider getting up to date with pneumonia and pertussis vaccines.


  • If you haven’t got your three vaccines, please do so urgently. Almost all serious COVID-19 infections occur in people that have not been vaccinated. If you have concerns talk to your GP and they can refer you to a specialist if needed.
  • Follow the latest public health advice around mask-wearing and distancing: set a good example to others.
  • Be patient and adaptable: everyone is working out how their services and businesses can run in these new circumstances.
  • Get comfortable with a facemask. If you are feeling breathless or having flare-ups while wearing a mask, this indicates your asthma/COPD is not well controlled. It does not mean you need an exemption. These should only granted to people with extremely severe lung disease, for example who are on a ventilator at home. If wearing a mask makes you anxious try breathing techniques such as those at Breathing Freely.
  • Some people with asthma and COPD take extra steps such as working from home. If you do this, please also think about limiting your exposure to other areas which can be crowded and have people not wearing masks, such as cafes and schools.

The value of respiratory education and support cannot be underestimated, and we are lucky to have Respiratory Care WA as experienced providers of respiratory services in our community.  If you have any concerns or questions about your asthma or COPD or the impact of COVID-19, you can speak to a member of their Respiratory Health Team by calling (08) 9289 3600.  It is also important to check in regularly with your health care provider or respiratory specialist. 

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