Asthma medications, like inhalers, in short supply during COVID-19 pandemic, Chicago specialist says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Asthma medications, like inhalers, are in short supply right now because they are being used to treat COVID-19 patients.

Dr. John Latall from Premier Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Care joined ABC 7 Chicago remotely Saturday morning to talk about what this means for people who are suffering from asthma.

Day by day, more is revealed about COVID-19, with news coming out in the last few weeks about asthma medication shortages, he said.

Latall said 45% of patients are now experiencing difficulties in obtaining their medication. Many of these patients are on albuterol, a rescue reliever asthma inhaler. For patients with uncontrolled asthma, lack of access to their albuterol inhalers is a life-or-death situation, as they are at a two-to-five-fold risk of potentially devastating pneumonia.

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The two main reasons for the shortage are hoarding and increased use, Latall said.

If a patient is having asthma symptoms or needing to use an albuterol or other rescue inhaler at least twice per week, they likely have uncontrolled asthma. Since such patients are at high risk of COVID-19 complications, they should promptly be seen in-person at their allergist or pulmonologist's office to do breathing tests that can fine-tune appropriate treatment.

Treatment options include avoidance of triggers, medications, traditional allergy shots and biologic injections. Proper treatment leading to control of asthma will lower the risk of complications from COVID-19 back to that of the general population, in addition to improving day-to-day functioning.

To learn more about Premier Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Care, visit premier-allergy.com. It has locations in the Loop and Lincoln Park.
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