Allergy, asthma medication could help against COVID-19 for certain people, allergist says

Posted at 2:49 PM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 17:53:47-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - There is no vaccine right now to cure COVID-19, and researchers are racing to develop one. However, if you have allergies or asthma, your medication could help you against the virus, according to Dr. Angela Hogan, an allergist and immunologist at The Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.

“Being allergic sort of turns on different immune cells in the body,” Hogan explained. “What we know in patients who have asthma is that the same sorts of things that drive asthma turn off certain immune cells."

These immune cells, Hogan said, are cells the COVID-19 virus targets to infect in order to spread.

“In fact, the proportion of patients who have asthma that are getting significant respiratory impact from the COVID-19 is much lower than what was predicted," Hogan said.

Hogan said certain additives in these medications, such as enhanced steroids, are what helps. Some medications she mentioned included Flovent, Qvar, Advair and Symbicort.

If someone were to purchase allergy or asthma medications and consume them despite not suffering from those conditions, Hogan said these medications would have no effect.

“I think that it’s important to be on your medications, especially your asthma medications, so that your asthma is well-controlled in the event you get the COVID-19 infection," Hogan said.

Hogan said this season in particular was worse for allergy sufferers due to abnormal weather conditions.

A few factors that can differentiate between whether someone has allergies or COVID-19 are eye symptoms. Watery or itching eyes are not found with COVID-19 patients. Hogan also mentioned that fevers are not associated with allergies.

“I think it’s unfortunate that we had such a bad allergy season during the pandemic,” Hogan said. "A lot of people were afraid that they may have had the virus when in fact they did have allergies."

Some of the findings Hogan cited were recently published in a study titled “Asthma and COVID-19 Risk: Good, Bad, or Indifferent?”

"Allergies will come and go for years and years and years, even after this pandemic is over," Hogan said.