How Has the Pandemic Changed Our Knowledge of Asthma?

Some of what scientists believe has been upended

Asthma inhaler
An asthma inhaler.

Scientific research doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and sometimes the matters that concern scientists the most can also offer revelations about other related subjects. As the world has grappled with the pandemic, the pandemic’s effects on other aspects of everyday living have also gradually come into the light — including how measures taken to control COVID-19 have had an effect on the flu and the common cold.

Those aren’t the only ailments that the pandemic has changed our understanding of, however. A new article by Sarah Zhang in The Atlantic explores how the pandemic offered researchers a more substantial base of knowledge about asthma.

In this case, it’s less about what happened than what didn’t happen. For many people with asthma, the last year has been a much milder one than expected. “We braced ourselves for significant problems for the millions of people living with asthma. It was the complete opposite. It’s amazing,” said Dr. David Stukus of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

As Zhang writes, this suggests that environmental factors may be less of an issue when it comes to asthma than scientists believed — and instead, cold and flu viruses may have a larger share of responsibility. The whole article is fascinating reading, both for what it says about asthma and for what it suggests might be useful for preventing it from flaring up in the future.

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