Social Distance From Humans, Not Your Medication

Concept: social distancing to avoid spread of coronavirus

As recommended by the government and healthcare professionals, respecting the hygiene, isolation and social distancing measures will help reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. But there is currently a new wave of information about whether you should ”distance” yourself from your inhaled medication. We live in an era where new information is overflowing everyday and it can become hard to distinguish what is true and what is false.

So here is the final answer to this question: You should not stop taking any of your medication. More than ever, you should continue to take it as prescribed. This includes your action plan as well.

This recommendation comes from the position statement by the Canadian Thoracic Society (CTS) and is based on the fact that by taking your medication, you will ensure that your lungs are working at their best. If you do contract COVID-19, or any other infection, your lungs will be able to better handle the virus.

Why the question of using inhaled medication in the first place?

The main concern seems to be about inhaled steroids.  The concern being that it would predispose you to catching COVID-19 by lowering your immune system. As of today, there is NO evidence that inhaled steroids increase your risk of acquiring coronavirus. If you want to know more about this particular topic, it will be further discussed in our next blog. Keep an eye out! And remember, always talk to your doctor first if you do have any questions about the medication you are taking.

Tips:

  • Make sure your prescriptions have been renewed and that you have the right quantities of your medication available, this will avoid unnecessary trips to the pharmacy.
  • Have your action plan medication available as well. If you do not have an action plan, talk to your physician about it.
  • If possible, call your pharmacy to order your medication a week in advance, to make sure that your medication will be available on time.
  • With the current COVID-19 crisis, it is possible that some medications frequently used at the hospital will be less available at the pharmacy. The Canadian Thoracic Society (CTS) Asthma and COPD Assembly Steering Committees have developed a rapid guidance for Canadian physicians recommending options for Salbutamol metered-dose inhaler (MDI) substitutions, in case of shortages of these drugs.
  • Finally, ask your pharmacist what options they have put in place to minimize contact and visits to the pharmacy. Some are offering home delivery services, drive-through options and even “service to your car”.
Profil picture of Dr. Josianne Hamel Bourbeau

About the author

Dr. Josianne Hamel Bourbeau completed her medical studies and her specialization in family medicine at the University of Montreal. Her practice is versatile and diverse, as are her interests. She currently works at the GMF Ahunstic and at the Centre d’hébergement Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci in the CIUSSS du Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, and at the Saint-Eustache Hospital in the CIUSSS des Laurentides. She is also involved in hospital teaching for undergraduate medical students for the University of Montreal. She firmly believes in the power of sharing medical knowledge to patients and between professionals in order to provide sustainable quality health care for all.

Dr. Josianne Hamel Bourbeau

GENERAL PRACTITIONER MD, CCFP, BSc