Advice for People with a Chronic Respiratory Condition


As people with long term respiratory conditions have been identified as one of the groups more at risk of serious illness if they become infected with the coronavirus it is really important to heed all the recommended precautions to avoid contracting the disease.

Respiratory conditions include Asthma, COPD, Cystic Fibrosis, Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, Alpha One and Sleep Apnoea.

Please consider the HSE’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage , which is updated daily as the most accurate and up-to-date source of information on the virus, the symptoms, the risks and protective measures.

People in vulnerable groups are advised in particular to practice ‘protective self-separation’, i.e. to avoid unnecessary face-to-face social interaction and avoid physical contact with others. HSE advice for at risk groups and coronavirus is available here.

In addition we urge you to do all you can to ensure your respiratory condition is well managed at this time. Here are some tips to help you do this:

  • Know your triggers in order to avoid them where possible – for example, avoid smoky environments and pollutants like dust, smog, or foggy weather
  • Monitor your symptoms and know what is usual for you. This will help in assessing if you need to alter your medication, start treatment early for exacerbations or seek medical advice.
  • Know when and how to seek help – if you have an exacerbation or if you are experiencing a “new” fever or “new” cough contact your GP.
  • Do not go to your GP’s surgery unless advised by GP staff.
  • Take your medication and ensure you are using your inhaler correctly – check the Inhaler Technique page of the Asthma Society for demonstrations of all the inhalers on the Irish market here
  • If your inhaler requires a spacer, we recommend you use one to ensure best medication delivery – check out our information on spacer usage here
  • Ensure that you have one month’s supply of your medication to hand
  • If you have a backup prescription for steroids and antibiotics ensure that you have your supply of these and that they are in date.
  • Continue to attend medical appointments unless otherwise advised by your hospital or healthcare team.
  • Do not smoke and avoid smoky environments.
  • Continue with your exercise. Either by wrapping up warm and taking a walk (but take care to practice social distancing) or by exercising safely at home. Using tins of beans or bottles of water for weights or doing some sit-to-stands/ march-on-the-spot will go a long way!
  • Eat well   – a balanced diet boosts energy and promotes a strong immune system to help fight infections.
  • Breathe easier – use controlled breathing techniques and chest clearance to help get rid of phlegm and aid relaxation.
  • Mind your head, as well as your lungs. The feelings of stress and anxiety that can be a common part of living with a respiratory condition are likely to be even more pronounced at this time. It is important to recognise these responses and look at ways to cope with the mental as well as the physical challenges – breathing techniques, staying in touch with family, friends and support group peers by phone, trying your best to follow a routine. Sticking to trusted sources of information such as HSE web page and avoiding over-reliance on social media as source of information will also help. More advice from the HSE on minding your mental health during the Corona virus outbreak is available here.

You can also check with patient charities directly for more information on specific conditions:

Asthma Society of Ireland

COPD Support Ireland

Cystic Fibrosis Ireland

Irish Lung Fibrosis Association

Alpha-1 Foundation Ireland

Call the Asthma/COPD Adviceline if you have queries about coronavirus and your Asthma or COPD – 1800 832146.

Call HSE Live on 1850 24 1850 for all other concerns about Covid-19 (Coronavirus).

Have a contact list of useful numbers to hand for your local GP, Pharmacist etc.