TIPS TO LIVE BY

Asthma and COVID-19: The Silver Lining

Sep. 24, 2020

By Annie Phalen

As a kid, I always had pretty severe asthma. And then as an adult….I still had pretty severe asthma. I stash inhalers in all of my bags and in various areas of the house so that they're never totally out of reach.

One of my biggest triggers is pollen — all kinds of pollen. Which means, living in Houston, that my allergies are a problem 12 months of the year. The good news, though, is that this year things are a little different.

Here are three big reasons I'm looking at our COVID-19 mask mandate in a glass-half-full kind of way.

Masks stop the spread of other stuff, too

My immune system isn't always the best. If there's a cold going around, I'm probably going to get it. This year, however, I'm working from home, staying socially distant and wearing a mask — every time I'm out in public. So my exposure level to all these things has dropped significantly in the past six months, which has, literally, helped me breathe easier.

Masks are like pollen's Kryptonite

Because my allergy season lasts 12 months out of the year, knowing that I have a way to cut down on those symptoms feels like a superpower. Or maybe it's the tool you use to fight off the superpower since pollen is good too, right? Either way, I love it. For me, this means less inflammation, which in turn leads to less asthma — and subsequently to me being a much happier person, of course.

Finally, wearing a mask is a new way to connect with people

It may feel like covering half your face in public cuts off your connection with people, but I see it as a new way to connect with people. I'm in a higher risk category, and while I know this about myself, it's not something a stranger would know about me.

I wear a mask and social distance to protect myself, but every time I see someone at the grocery store giving me space and wearing his or her mask properly, I can't help but heave a sigh of relief. Even if it isn't their original intention to take my health and safety seriously, that's still exactly what they're doing. And I'm grateful for it. I hope they feel that same sense of relief when they see me wearing my mask, too.

So, even though wearing a mask is part of our *whispers* "new normal," I think I might keep it beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

About Annie:
Annie Phalen is social media program manager at Houston Methodist. She regularly spends way too much time on Instagram under the guise of “research.” Her main hobbies include petting every dog in sight and trying out new recipes.
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