Where has asthma gone?

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Where has asthma gone?

There was a suspicion that doctors misunderstood the causes of seizures

The pandemic, in addition to a gigantic amount of troubles, has also become a worldwide social experiment. And one of the consequences of this experiment looks encouraging for asthmatics: while the coronavirus rages, the number of attacks has dropped dramatically!

American allergists and pulmonologists were very worried about asthma patients when the coronavirus pandemic began. It is well known that respiratory infections are one of the main causes of exacerbation in asthmatics. More than a year has passed since then – and doctors with surprise and joy state that the number of asthmatic attacks has decreased unprecedentedly. Children with asthmatics, habitual patients in intensive care units, no longer need intensive care! Never before have so few been hospitalized in recent decades!

Not only American doctors, but also their colleagues in South Korea, England and Scotland were also relieved to see how much hospital admissions with asthma exacerbations and even doctors' visits to asthmatics have dropped.

Asthma causes 3,500 deaths in the United States each year and is associated with 1.6 million emergency hospitalizations. An attack can be caused by a variety of reasons: viruses, pollen, animal dandruff, the smallest mites contained in house dust, industrial emissions into the atmosphere, and finally, just tobacco smoke. Doctors have previously tried to ensure that patients get rid of household allergens – animals, chemicals or, again, tobacco smoke, believing that this is the cause of exacerbations. However, please: asthmatics have been locked up (for the most part) at home for more than a year, and there is not only growth, a sharp decline in hospitalizations is recorded!

Obviously, doctors now draw conclusions, a much larger role than previously assumed in the exacerbation of asthma is played by a variety of viruses, seasonal infections. During the anti-epidemic measures introduced in connection with the coronavirus, habitual seasonal infections have practically disappeared – this is a consequence of lockdowns, masks and the separation of human flows.

Fortunately, there is even scientific work that provides not empirical, but quite reliable data on a decrease in the number of seizures. Pulmonologist Elliot Israel began keeping statistics on asthma exacerbations back in 2018. He investigated the features of the course of the disease in African and Hispanic Americans: they get sick much more severely than whites. The last, 1201st participant, joined the study in March 2020, just a week before the start of the pandemic restrictions. Israel had a lot of data before the lockdowns and masking started; his wards continued to regularly send him health reports during the pandemic. And this is what happens: the number of attacks has decreased by 40%!

It is logical that for those who stayed to work at home, the decrease was not so pronounced – only 23%: habitual allergens made themselves felt. But those whose life was connected with work, for example, in the air, suffocated 65% less often!

And one more thing: the number of attacks has sharply decreased in those whose exacerbations are associated with harmful emissions into the atmosphere. But here, alas, it is likely that a return to normal life can return their previous incidence.

Now that mass vaccinations have dramatically improved the epidemic situation and the talk has come to return to the old life, doctors will have to (obviously!) Revise the previous recommendations for asthmatics. Yes, schools will open and masses of people without masks will again appear in public places, but the pandemic experience, which has such a beneficial effect on the lives of asthmatics, will be in demand.

Mark Zweilicht

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