My Experience with COVID-19 and Asthma
So, I'm a 20-year-old who was diagnosed with adult-onset asthma a few months ago. My Mom is a nurse. I have mild intermittent asthma. Respiratory viruses are my worst trigger. This is a story that will cover multiple topics. It will cover the timeline of me having COVID with asthma and how being a healthcare worker and living with another healthcare worker can help in the management of symptoms and recovery.
May 23, 2022: My symptoms begin
I had fallen asleep around 8 pm because I was mysteriously very tired. I had woken up around 10 or 11 pm and I was very thirsty, so I decided to get something to drink. I remember that as I was drinking I felt a sharp pain on the right side of my throat. I thought I had a tonsil stone or post nasal drip and it was irritating my throat. I went back to sleep a couple of hours later.
May 24, 2022: Identifying cold symptoms
I had woken up to find that I still had a sore throat. I checked in the mirror with my phone flashlight. I didn't have a tonsil stone, but there was a little spot that appeared to be a little swollen, so I figured it was just irritated. A few hours later I started to feel a little rundown and feverish. I took my temperature and I found that I did have a low-grade fever. I thought I had a cold. I wasn't having too many issues with my asthma thus far. I thought maybe I would get lucky and not develop acute bronchitis from this cold. I thought I was getting better, but that wasn't the case.
Let's fast forward. I had been dealing with cold symptoms for a couple of days. I thought it was nothing out of the ordinary. It would get worse at night, and one night I had a really hard time sleeping because of the symptoms. I thought I would be fine in a few days to a week's time. I didn't know I had COVID yet. And as previously stated, I thought I was getting better.
May 27, 2022: Wheezing
This is the day I started wheezing. I developed an inspiratory wheeze, so I used my rescue inhaler, which cleared it up for the most part. I still felt sick. I hoped it wouldn't get much worse than that. I had been needing increased Albuterol.
May 28, 2022: My symptoms got worse
The wheezing got worse. It was more frequent and it sounded worse. I think now is a good time to mention that when I wheeze, I don't often make the typical sound you might associate with wheezing. For me, it's kind of a low-pitched rhonchi-type sound. A friend of mine described it as bubble wrap. Anyway, that night it just got worse and worse and worse. I was coughing by this point too. I had been coughing for a few days, but now I had a deeper, wetter-sounding cough. I did not sleep at all this night because of how bad I was coughing and wheezing. I was using my rescue inhaler a lot more than usual. I had a severe asthma attack that lasted from the late hours of the night into the early hours of the morning.
May 29, 2022: Time for a COVID test
After having a severe attack for several hours, I woke my mom up at 5 am. I don't know how I was talking at this point. She didn't even get her stethoscope, she just put her ear up to my chest and went "yep, do you wanna take a COVID test?" My sister had tested positive, which is why she asked. She asked me if I used my inhaler. I said, "yes, twice" (I had forgotten about the 10 puff rule, so I thought I couldn't do more than two puffs because that's what I'm prescribed every 4 hours as needed). My mom was telling me I needed to cough up the congestion in my chest because that would help me feel better. I told her "I know" but what I didn't have enough breath to tell her was that I couldn't even get a strong enough cough to expel anything. I eventually did though. I think this is why my inhaler didn't help me much. I could barely use it with how severe this attack was. I didn't get a ton of medication for my lungs. This was a real wake-up call that I need to get a spacer. After I had that attack, I used my rescue inhaler every four hours. I prevented another severe attack that way. I thought I would have to go to the ER, but I luckily ended up not needing that.
Recovering from having COVID with asthma
With my mom being a nurse and me being a pharmacy tech, we knew what to do. I knew how to stay calm even though having COVID with asthma is relatively new to me. It really helps to have someone who is a healthcare worker on call when you are dealing with COVID.
This experience taught me two things. First, I need to get a spacer. Second, I need to remember the 10 puff rule in situations where it matters.
I hope others are able to benefit and or learn from the experience that I had with COVID.
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