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Lung conditions
Lung conditions


A man using his inhaler

What if I already have a breathing problem, and then I get COVID?

If you already have a breathing problem, it does not mean you are more likely to catch COVID, but it means you could become ill if you get COVID.

Breathing problems can include:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) is a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Interstitial lung disease

If you are not sure if your breathing problems are caused by the breathing problems you already have or from COVID, you could get a COVID test or speak to your GP.

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Should I take my medication as usual?

It is important that you carry on taking the medication prescribed for you. If you stop taking your medication, it could make you feel worse.

If you have any concerns or questions about your medication, please speak to your local pharmacist or your General Practitioner (GP).

If you use any equipment to help with your breathing problem, you will need to clean it once a week. Please leave the equipment to ‘air dry’. Breathing equipment could be:

  • Spacers
  • Inhalers
  • Masks


If you go to the hospital, please bring your inhalers and an up-to-date list of your medication.

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What should I do if I feel unwell?

Speak to your general practitioner or GP, who can review your health problem.

Get a COVID test.

If you have a Community Respiratory Nurse that supports you with your breathing problems, you can speak to them for advice and support.

You can call 111 for advice or 999 if you have problems breathing.

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What about if I smoke?

Cigarette smoke will damage your lungs, and if you already have a breathing problem, it could make your breathing problems worse. If you want to stop smoking, you are more likely to stop if you get support from a stop smoking advisor. Find a local Stop Smoking Advisor.

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What can I do if I feel breathless?


If you have a rescue inhaler to treat your asthma or other breathing problems you can use this as prescribed.

Handheld fan

Point a handheld fan at your face and move it slowly from one cheek to the other. Please do not use the fan in a public place.

Slow down your breathing

Take a deep breath in and count to four as you breathe in.

As you breathe out, count from one to seven.

Changes to your body

If you have swollen feet and ankles, called oedema, you may have extra fluid in your body, which often goes away on its own. You should talk to your doctor if it does not get better in a few days.

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What about routine hospital appointments?

Hospitals, clinics and GP surgeries have delayed or cancelled appointments due to COVID. If your appointment is cancelled or delayed, you should get a new appointment when it is safe.

Your hospital or clinic should contact you about any changes to your appointments. Some of the appointments may be face-to-face, on the phone or by video call.

Contact your GP surgery or ring the number on your appointment letter if:

  • You do not know what is going on with your appointment
  • Your health problem has got worse

If you need help to make a new appointment, ask someone you trust to support you.

It is important to remember that you should not attend face-to-face appointments if you have any symptoms of COVID or have vomited, or had diarrhoea in the last 48 hours.

Learn more about breathing conditions and COVID:

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