Asthma During Coronavirus (Where’s The Albuterol?)

Life during the Coronavirus epidemic has been challenging for everyone.  Those suffering from asthma have had trouble finding albuterol medication for their symptoms.

Amid this uncertainty, asthma patients are scrambling to fill prescriptions and doctors are utilizing the drugs in other ways, like alleviating COVID-related symptoms.

If you visited the grocery store during the pandemic you likely noticed people stocking up on water, food, and toiletries. This is a natural reaction to uncertainty and one that folks see on a yearly basis in parts of the country prone to hurricanes.

The toilet paper shortage was national news, and rightfully so, but I think we can agree that there are alternative ways to get by if people lack toilet paper. This is not the case with medicine.

As people were shopping and preparing for the worst-case scenario, pharmacy prescriptions were filled at a rapid rate. The fear of stores closing and long lines prompted many families to prioritize filling their prescriptions!

Prescriptions that were usually spread out over a long period of time, became concentrated and put a strain on the supply chain.

In addition to patients filling albuterol prescriptions, doctors began using albuterol to help those affected by the Conronavirus. As outlined by the Center For Disease Control some of the most serious symptoms continue to be 1) trouble breathing, 2) cough, 3) shortness of breath.

Albuterol happens to help COVID-19 patients breathe easier by relaxing their airways.

What Is Albuterol

Albuterol is a bronchodilator and it’s a fast-acting drug that relaxes muscles in the esophagus and lungs, making it easier to breath. Because it works fast to help patients breathe, it’s a quick option to keep people alive who are struggling to breathe.

Why Albuterol Is Being Used During Coronavirus

There has been a lot of confusion about the Coronavirus.  It swept the world quickly while countries lacked the information to properly prepare.

Medical researchers are still trying to locate the exact origin of the virus and they continue to learn more about how it transmits.

A few things are certain. It spreads quickly, can remain “active” on materials for days (and weeks), and it is life-threatening to people with preexisting conditions and people with breathing issues, such as asthma.

What To Do If You Can’t Get Albuterol

Shortages of albuterol have been reported in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.  One of the reasons was due to recommendations by the CDC to fill prescriptions and have adequate medicine on hand in case of a supply-chain disruption.

Physicians are optimistic that the initial surge in the drug will slow and availability will quickly return once the outlook of Conronavirus is clearer.  In addition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just approved a new albuterol medicine for the company Merck, which should help the strained supply of bronchodilators (Ventolin and Proair were also approved recently).

Thankfully, the CDC and FDA are aware of the shortage and doing what they can to ensure the safety of people with asthma.

With that said, there are some things you can do to reduce the use of albuterol.

In general, you shouldn’t have to suffer because you’re having trouble finding albuterol, however, if you can proactively manage your symptoms, you may be able to reduce your use of albuterol while maintaining your health.

Here is a list of actions you might consider taking.

Wisely Conserve Your Albuterol

Patients who use albuterol know when they need it. Occasionally, someone who uses albuterol might get into a daily use habit even when it’s not 100% necessary.

It might be necessary before a run, or its use might be a morning habit.  During the Coronavirus, it’s wise to step back and evaluate how and why you’re using it.

Only use it only when necessary. It may mean breaking up a routine that you’re comfortable with. If could also mean careful consideration of whether you really need it at the moment.

Stay Indoors (Know Your Triggers)

Patients often require the use of albuterol around triggers. Triggers can include allergens, like pollen, in the environment or second hand smoke.

Staying indoors will not only help reduce exposure to a trigger, but it will also help reduce exposure to COVID.  The CDC has already advice no essential workers to work from home during this period of time so there’s no excuse to be spending a lot of time outside.

Closely Monitor Your Exercise and Breathing

Do you exercise on a daily basis? Many people rely on daily exercise to stay in good health. Exercise also helps us breathe better and process oxygen more efficiently.

However, asthma can make exercising a scary endeavor and using a puffer with albuterol helps us exercise without fear.

Exercise is extremely important for the overall health of our body. During this pandemic, and during a medicine shortage, it’s a good idea to closely monitor exercise.

Consider exercising indoors where the likely hood of breathing problems are minimized.  Use an air purifier to really clean the air in the room you exercise in.

Communicate With Medical Professionals

Above all, make sure to communicate with your family doctor and specialists. If you’re scared about not having an adequate supply of medicine, let them know.

Chances are, they know where to get your medicine or they have alternative option that can work effectively until your specific medicine is available.

Care For Your Throat (Don’t Get Sick)

This is a great time to care for your body.  A strong body is more resilient and able to fight off infection.  Review your diet and eat “clean”. This includes low histamine foods!

A healthy diet could make you feel stronger and you may experience less need for your albuterol.  Herbal tea could help soothe and relax the throat.

Keep Unused Albuterol In The Fridge (Make It Last)

If happened to stock up on albuterol, make it last. Every year, Americans throw out a lot of unused medicine because of expiry dates. If it’s not currently with you, your backup albuterol should be stored in a cool dry place (never frozen).

Keeping it cool can help maintain its effectiveness long after an expiration date and it will save you money in the long run.

Conclusion

With the initial panic of a worldwide pandemic, people rushed to grocery stores to gather necessities. There were stories of goods that were sold out, like toilet paper, masks, and gloves. Who knew there would also be shortages of albuterol, an asthma drug used to open and relax the respiratory system.

Shortages were a result of a few circumstances, but both tied to the novel Coronavirus.

The first reason was due to a rush of people filing prescriptions. Similar to what occurred at grocery stores around the U.S., pharmacies saw their sales spike as patients made sure they had enough medicine to endure the life of the virus.

The second reason for the shortage was because physicians were using albuterol to treat COVID-19 patients. Some of the major symptoms of the virus are trouble breathing and coughing. The drug helped patients breath, even if it was just a temporary option before further treatment of the virus.

It’s important to take health precautions and to correctly use your medicine. Make your albuterol last longer by using it only when it’s necessary.

Monitor your exercise routine so you won’t have to use medicine as much. Stay indoors and shield yourself from outdoor triggers like pollen.

Lastly, speak with a medical professional to gain professional and personalized advice. If your medicine isn’t available, there’s likely an alternative medicine that can help you in the short-term.