Coronavirus and Asthma: A Patient's Experience

Published 2 Apr 2020 • Updated 6 Apr 2020 • By Andrea Barcia

Tim, 34, has been asthmatic since he was 5 or 6 years old. Though the diagnosis was not fully confirmed at the outset of symptoms, he was infected with the coronavirus. What was his experience like? How is he today? He tells us everything! 

Coronavirus and Asthma: A Patient's Experience

Hello, what were the first symptoms you experienced?

Good morning. The first symptoms I felt were those of a "classic" flu, that is: fever, headache, muscle aches and severe fatigue. The next day, new "digestive" symptoms appeared, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Finally, on the third day, chest pain, respiratory distress, dyspnoea (or shortness of breath) and wheezing began. At the same time, I also noticed a loss of smell and taste.

How and why were you tested? How was the test performed? How long did it take to get the results?

As I work at the hospital and am in contact with the so-called "at-risk" population, I had the opportunity to take the diagnostic test for Coronavirus the day after my symptoms appeared. I was called at a specific time and received by a fireman who was in charge of taking the contact details of everyone coming for the test (given and surname, address, telephone number, etc.). I waited about fifteen minutes and sat in a room dedicated entirely to the testing. A doctor came and asked me some questions about my symptoms, my medical history and my work as a psychologist (the population I come in contact with, where I work). The test they performed on me was a nasal swab. I was given the results by phone 24 hours later and received an email at home 48 hours later.

What have you been taking to relieve the symptoms of COVID-19? Have you been admitted to hospital?

No, I have not been hospitalised, as all the symptoms were manageable. In France, NSAID-type medications (Ibuprofen) are not recommended to treat COVID-19 because they are thought to be linked to a decrease in immune response function. So my treatment was simply composed of regular Paracetamol (Co-codamol, Panadol) with a 6-hour waiting time between doses. As far as asthma is concerned, I usually have one or two attacks a week. With COVID-19, I tended to have up to two attacks a day. Fortunately, Ventolin treatment was still effective and helped to treat asthma attacks, even during the COVID-19.

How long have you had these symptoms? What has the evolution of the Coronavirus been?

The symptoms lasted about 15 days. To this day, I still have some mild symptoms (headaches, fatigue and chest pain). What differs from the so-called "classic" flu is precisely the evolution of the symptoms, with, as I described in my case, first the classic symptoms, then the digestive ones and finally the respiratory ones. For me, these respiratory symptoms are still the most distressing and overwhelming. After two weeks, when the symptoms have subsided, you feel as if you have been cured. But the symptoms do fluctuate somewhat and can reappear, albeit with less intensity, after two days.

Did your asthma flare up after being diagnosed with COVID-19?

It's important to know that when I get sick, asthma always complicates the healing process and lengthens the necessary recovery time. For example, for a classic flu, I often have asthmatic bronchitis* that adds up and forces me to stay home for at least a week. As the symptoms of Coronavirus are essentially respiratory, it is obvious that asthma is a complicating factor. As I mentioned before, my attacks were more frequent and could reach up to two per day. Currently, although I feel better, I can still have one attack a day.

*A particular form of acute bronchitis that combines the classic symptoms of bronchitis with the respiratory signs characteristic of an asthma attack.

Have you had any specific medical follow-up for your asthma? How was the medical care?

From the time I was positively diagnosed with COVID-19, I received follow-up care. Twice a day, I was sent a specific questionnaire that allowed me to describe my symptoms. On these questionnaires, I was asked about my temperature, breathing cycles, blood pressure, respiratory symptoms, and feelings of chest pain. According to my answers, a dedicated doctor would call me daily to discuss the evolution of my symptoms. He also gave me advice and precautionary measures. In case of emergency, I was told to call 15 (the number for French emergency services) for possible admission to hospital.

Author's note: in case of emergency in the UK, you should call 111. In case of choking, chest pain, blacking out, or blood loss, call 999. Click here for more information on the procedure to follow..

Have you had to make any changes to your usual course of treatment?

No, my treatment has stayed the same, with generally three intakes of paracetamol per day (morning, noon and evening) and two intakes of Ventolin per day.

Did you follow the protective measures during your illness?

From the moment I tested positive, I was of course put on sick leave, as my job could pose a risk to the patients I care for. I was also told to remain in total isolation for about ten days. So I have been confined to my home for two weeks and have not left it, to limit the risk of infecting others. Living as a couple, it has been difficult to follow the shielding recommendations for my spouse (one metre of distance between us during meals, limitation of physical contact and separation during the night). Despite our best efforts to not spread the virus, she also fell ill after a few days.

Read about the Coronavirus and barrier gestures in our article

And how do you feel today? Have you fully recovered?

Overall I feel better and the more distressing symptoms (high fever, shortness of breath and respiratory distress) seem to be behind me. However, after 15 days, some symptoms such as headache, fatigue and, in my case, asthma still persist. So, these symptoms continue to fluctuate over time. The doctor, who calls daily to check in, told me that recovery time varies greatly from one person to another. He also encourages me to stay in self-isolation because as long as I continue to have symptoms, I am potentially contagious. It takes three to four days in a row without symptoms to be considered fully recovered.

Have you been through this experience? Don't hesitate to share your story in the comments, in this time of crisis, information is important!


avatar Andrea Barcia

Author: Andrea Barcia, Health Writer

Andrea specialises in managing online patient communities and writing health articles. She has a particular interest in the fields of neuropsychology, nutrition and sport.

Andrea holds a master's degree in... >> Learn more


on 02/04/2020

all what i am getting i can go back to work as long i got my pump i be ok 

on 14/04/2020

My covid 19 journey..... Sunday 29th march, only due to the demands of my loving family I called nhs 111 as I was becoming increasingly breathless. At 2am I attended a Medical Centre, where a nurse checked my observations. My temp was fine, my heart rate was up a bit but my oxygen levels were in the low 90's she wasn't happy so sent me direct to hospital.
Arriving at a&e I had to say goodbye to my husband at the door, not knowing what was ahead of me. I was taken into a room and checked again before being moved in to Amu. I spent 24 hrs in there where I was hooked up to the moon and screened for Coronavirus.
Late Monday I was then moved to a ward set up for covid 19, to be cared for by the amazing staff up here. I felt like a fraud, after all I was still convinced it was just my asthma playing up. Boy was I wrong!!
Turns out I had pneumonia & the dreaded virus😭
Still refusing to believe this I kept on going trying to help others in the ward with me, I was taking my antibiotics, nebulisers and Inhalers. Tuesday came n went and I felt weaker. Wednesday 1st April my babies birthday and I couldn't even hug her, facetime that's what I had, all my usual wee things I do for their birthdays in a drawer unfulfilled. This broke my heart.
Now shit got scary real quick!!! Thursday 2nd April just before lunch, I took a really bad asthma attack, I don't remember much, other than alot if ppl with different oxygen masks, needles and some wee angel telling me to keep calm. The rest of the day is a blur. I remember the Dr from Intensive Care coming in and talking to me about taking me down. Me being a stubborn bitch said that was not happening I would not be needing intubated. Little did I know at that time I was so freeking close to having no choice. Friday morning u would have thought I was taking the piss, sitting up quite the thing as if nothing happened. Still very weak, breathless but still fighting. Then I jumped back on the corona roller-coaster with another attack and again I was almost a gonner. I could feel wee Maud n Sandy(my parents who have passed) holding me, I could hear my dad talking to me telling to calm down. The intensive care Dr's were back and again I said nope, I will draw the boot right aff this virus, I'm a spiers that's what we do.
All weekend I faught hard, been scared, I have terrified my family, we have been up n down more often than I care to think but today I am back on my feet, hair washed and feel somewhat normal.

The Dr's, nurses, clinical assistants and domestics of ward 11 of Monklands Hospital have been and continue to be amazing. I cannot thank them enough for saving my life not once but twice. I may be out the thick of the forest but I have a massive road to full recovery ahead. My lungs are weakened due to the virus and will take time to fully heal, but I celebrated when I got that negative result for covid 19 2 weeks after my admission to hospital and I got to go home to my amazing husband, my beautiful girls and my furbabies.
This could have been a completely different story, being told by someone other than me, I am only one of many success stories, there are others out there, unfortunately the media don't report many. Stay strong, stay safe & stay home.
#GODBLESSOURNHS #DontTakeLifeForGranted #StayAtHome

lesmal • Ambassador
on 22/05/2020

Thank you for sharing your testimonial about your life with asthma.

I am epileptic and know that often during a seizure I cannot breath, due to the contraction of the respiratory muscles. Often I end up on oxygen either by Paramedics or in the A&E/hospital. My family is also very allergic prone and we all suffer from hayfever which is a constant problem year round. Some episodes turn into breathing problems with rhinitis, sinus, blocked noses etc.

Please ensure you keep taking the medication given, i.e. pump, nebuliser, inhaler etc. and keep those asthma attacks away! 

Have a good weekend ahead. 

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