We have had a large number of calls from asthmatics requesting rescue packs following a widely circulated but misleading Facebook post suggesting patients ask their GP for a rescue pack of steroids and antibiotics if they have asthma or COPD.
Some people, particularly those with bad COPD or very severe asthma requiring frequent courses of steroids and antibiotics, may well have rescue packs. These are to be used for very specific symptoms, usually alongside telephone advice from their GP. The small minority of patients for whom this is suitable are identified at their annual review and already have these packs in place.
Please do not request a rescue pack if you’ve never had one before or not had one since childhood. There is evidence that taking steroids inappropriately for breathlessness or cough caused by Covid 19 – and not asthma – may well make the infection worse. It is really important for an assessment to be made on an individual patient basis and we would ask that anyone experiencing new shortness of breath contact the surgery.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: during this pandemic those who already have a rescue pack of steroids at home must not start taking them if they develop any respiratory symptoms. If you have steroids on your usual repeat prescription you can continue these. It is only the rescue pack you must not take without advice from the triage GP first. We have sent letters to all patients this will affect.
The best current guidance for those with Respiratory illnesses can be found at the links below. If you have any questions, please consult the following sites:
- The British Lung Foundation – https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/coronavirus
- The British Thoracic Society have a helpful summary – https://www.brit-thoracic.org.uk/about-us/covid-19-information-for-bts-members/
- Asthma UK – https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/coronavirus-covid-19/
- Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis – https://www.actionpulmonaryfibrosis.org/2020/coronavirus/