With some exceptions, people with asthma are not at a higher risk for more severe disease, hospitalization, or death due to COVID-19, according to Anne K. Ellis, MD, MSc, FRCPC, FAAAAI, and Alyssa G. Burrows, BHSch. However, the perception of being at higher risk has substantially affected the mental well-being of people with asthma, and history of anxiety and depression is a risk factor, they wrote.

For a paper published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, Burrows and Dr. Ellis sought to summarize the psychological impact of COVID-19 on people with allergic diseases and identify gaps in previous research. The team searched medical literature from 1947 to October 18, 2021, using a strategy including the keywords “allergic disease”, “COVID,” and “psychological disorders.” Primary manuscripts and abstracts using online and telephone surveys, mixed-method studies capturing patient and caregiver experiences, case studies, and published guidelines from allergic disease-specific expert groups were included.

 

Parents & Caregivers Impacted

Dr. Ellis and Burrows found that people with asthma and other chronic respiratory conditions were at higher risk for negative psychological outcomes, with risk factors including asthma severity, female sex, and history of anxiety and depression, likely owing to the perceived risk of severe disease from COVID-19. “One study identified that people with allergic rhinitis had significantly high anxiety and depression scores compared with healthy controls,” the authors wrote. “The psychological impacts of food allergy during COVID-19 were most strongly felt by parents and caregivers. Similarly, parents of children with asthma experienced substantial psychological burden.”

As COVID-19 research continues to evolve and the literature captures later stages of the pandemic, it is important that physicians be aware of the potential coincidence of mental illness and chronic allergic diseases and refer these patients, and their caregivers, to appropriate resources while also continuing to manage their allergic disease(s), the authors wrote.