These are the questions about COVID19 that we’re being asked more often. We’ll keep the list updated as often as possible.
Am I at more risk because of my medication?
You could be. People who take medication that suppresses the immune system are more at risk of infection and should practice social distancing. These medications include biologic drugs such as anti TNFs and IL 17A inhibitors, and DMARDs, most notably methotrexate and steroids. If you take a combination of these drugs your risk increases and so at the moment you are advised to exercise enhanced social distancing if possible, although this advice may change as we learn more about the virus. Updated 26 March 2020.
Should I stop taking my medication?
Please continue to take your medication to ensure that you do not have a flare of your axial SpA (AS). However if you develop symptoms of COVID19 / Coronavirus you should stop taking biologic medicines and DMARDS and contact a health professional. If you are taking steroids you should not stop without consulting a health professional as these should be reduced gradually. You do not need to stop taking your sulfasalazine. Updated 23 March 2020.
What if someone in my house has COVID19 symptoms but I don’t?
If someone in your house has symptoms of COVID19, they should be self-isolating. The chances of anybody living with them becoming infected are significant, even if they aren’t showing symptoms. If you are taking a biologic medicine, because of the higher risk of infection our advice is to delay your next injection, and keep yourself indoors as much as possible. Going back onto your biologic will depend on whether you develop symptoms or remain asymptomatic but with no active symptoms in the household. Updated 26 March 2020.
Should I be self-isolating?
Everyone should be staying in their home as per government guidelines and only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work. There are certain circumstances where you are considered high-risk. Read more here. Updated 26March 2020.
What if I can’t get my blood tests done when I am on biologics or DMARDS? What will happen? What effect will it have on my health?
Current guidelines by the British Society for Rheumatology state that people on biologics should have their blood tested every six months, and those on DMARDs should have blood tests every three to four months.
At the moment you should be able to get your blood tests done at the hospital or with your GP. However, this may change over time if GP surgeries close and hospital staff are redeployed. There is provision within NHS plans for an increase in community phlebotomy services but the rapidly developing nature of the COVID19 incident mean that plans may change. We will keep this page updated as we know more.
Symptoms to look out for if you are on biologics or DMARDS and haven’t had your bloods taken include sore throat, fever, generally feeling unwell and jaundice; if you experience any of these symptoms then you should contact seek medical advice. Updated 26 March 2020.
Will my biologic medicines still be available?
We have received reassurances from pharmaceutical companies that deliveries will take place as usual. We will update this if anything changes. Updated 26 March 2020.
How can I convince my employer that I need to be working from home?
The government has issued guidance for employers on the measures they should be taking. You can read a summary here. Updated 26 March 2020.
Will NSAIDs make me more likely to get the virus, or make my symptoms worse?
This has been debated quite a lot in recent days with information coming from France that ibuprofen can make symptoms of COVD19 more severe. This information is based on anecdotal evidence and there has been a lot of conflicting evidence. Our advice is continue to use NSAIDs including ibuprofen, but should you develop symptoms of COVID19, stop and consult a health professional. Updated 20 March 2020