City doctors see increase in number of breakthrough lung infections after covid-19, causing coughing fits, shortness of breath among citizens

Covid cases have been a worrying factor for the last three years. However, the doctors in the city say that there has been a spike in asthma cases post covid.

Dr Sunil Kumar K, Lead Consultant - Interventional Pulmonology, Aster CMI Hospital, told Bangalore Mirror that there has been a worrying trend in the aftermath of covid-19: an increase in asthma cases.

“It is no secret that covid-19 attacks the respiratory system, and studies suggest that it can lead to lasting lung damage. This damage can manifest in the form of asthma, which is a chronic respiratory condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Additionally, with the rise of the XBB variant and the increasing number of breakthrough infections, we are seeing more cases of post-covid asthma,” he said.

A 35-year-old woman had recently contracted covid-19 and experienced mild symptoms. However, a few weeks later, she began to experience severe shortness of breath and coughing fits. Upon examination, she was diagnosed with post-covid asthma, he added.

“With proper medication and management of her triggers, she has been able to control her symptoms and lead a normal life. This case highlights the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of post-covid asthma,” he explained. Other experts added that the virus is known to infect the airways of the lungs, making them more vulnerable to inflammation.

Dr Vasunethra Kasaragod (Consultant - Pulmonology, Manipal Hospital, Millers Road) said, “Asthma is a respiratory disease with inflammation in the airways due to exposure to an allergic substance that we inhale. If we see classical asthma patients, they have an allergy to inhaled allergens like pollen and dust mites, or it could even be the pollution around us. With covid-19 coming into the picture, the virus is known to infect the airways of the lungs.”

He informed that during the covid wave, as a pulmonologist, he has seen that patients developed typical symptoms of asthma like wheezing, coughing with phlegm, and breathlessness after the infection. Many times, the symptoms persist for a long time, even after the infection has subsided. So, they behaved like typical post-viral, or in this case, post-covid bronchitis.

Furthermore, Dr Padma Sundaram (Consultant - Pulmonology and Interventional Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital, Cunningham Road) said that asthma cases are rising post-covid due to a phenomenon called post-viral hyper-reactive airways, especially in predisposed atopic individuals.

It is no secret that covid-19 attacks the respiratory system, and studies suggest that it can lead to lasting lung damage

– Dr Sunil Kumar K

“This, along with indoor sensitization to house dust mites during lockdown and working from home, has contributed to the increase. Currently, the absence of social distancing and unmasking among the general public, combined with weather changes, has increased viral infection rates. To reduce the morbidity associated with asthma, we need to practice masking, early diagnosis, and appropriate treatment,” she said.

Doctors say that the best treatment of asthma includes inhalers and antihistamines. Dr Kasargod added that asthma prevention mainly involves identifying the main culprit or main trigger which causes the asthma symptoms. “The main treatment for asthma remains inhalers, which could include inhaled corticosteroids and bronchodilators, which help reduce the symptoms associated with it,” he said.

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