The benefits of using inhalers and nebulizers during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic outweigh the risks for patients with asthma, according to new research published in Respiratory Medicine.

In March, the World Health Organization (WHO) advised that steroids used in inhalers and nebulizers could have a negative effect on the immune system, possible leaving patients more susceptible to COVID-19. This caused some confusion among nebulizer and inhaler users, according to the study.

Patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are typically prescribed inhaled and oral corticosteroids with inhalers to prevent attacks. The demand for inhalers had jumped 400% during the pandemic, which lead to shortages in the United Kingdom, according to the press release. 

The study is based on evidence and findings from a number of different bodies, including the British Thoracic Society and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. The study looked at the use of steroids and the risk of viral infections of the upper respiratory tract. This included previous outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome. 

Despite the benefits of steroid use outweighing the potential for adverse events, the researchers said that there is a risk that the immune system goes down and there is a chance of acquiring infections; however, patients should not stop steroid use. Individuals should continue to use their inhalers, nebulizers, and steroids as usual, according to the study. 

"After the WHO advice, people thought that continuous use of steroids would leave them at a greater risk of contracting the virus or developing more than a mild version of COVID-19," University of Huddersfield’s Syed Shahzad Hasan, PhD, said in the press release. 

Reference:
Study says inhalers OK to use amid COVID-19 concern (News Release), July 9, 2020, Huddersfield, England, ScienceDaily, accessed July 13, 2020