Coronavirus and the condition it causes, known as COVID-19, are trending issues worldwide, and they’re issues that any person with a chronic lung disease should be aware of. This family of viruses has been linked to issues ranging from the common cold and flu to Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
COVID-19 has symptoms that are often similar to the flu, including fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Having a runny nose, headache and fatigue are also common with this illness. Patients with chronic lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) should be particularly on the lookout for such symptoms.
How COVID-19 Can Affect Chronic Lung Disease Patients
As of March 18, it’s been reported that there are 4,200 COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Check here for the number of current cases in the U.S. There is also evidence that patients with a chronic lung disease could be more seriously affected by this condition than other people, for several reasons.
Chronic lung disease patients tend to have a weaker immune system, which makes them more likely to develop secondary infections. Additionally, the respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those that patients with chronic lung conditions already have, and an increase in symptoms like coughing or shortness of breath can cause serious issues for chronic lung disease patients that are more likely to need medical care.
COVID-19 has been shown to affect people between 40 and 80 years old more often, which is the age range most chronic lung disease patients also fall into. However, a report from WebMD notes that 80% of COVID-19 cases have been mild.
Steps Chronic Lung Disease Patients Can Take to Reduce COVID-19 Risk
You can take steps to help decrease your risk of developing COVID-19. Some of the actions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include:
- Wash your hands often. If you cannot get to running water, use hand sanitizer, if available.
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed or unsanitized hands.
- Avoid people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces you touch often on a daily basis, including technology like keyboards and phones.
- Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and other people if you must go out.
- Contact your doctor or pharmacist to stock up on required medications.
- Make sure you have a good supply of over-the-counter flu medications in case you do develop symptoms.
- Stock up on grocery and household supplies. This will help limit how much you need to go out.
- Use delivery apps or services to avoid going out for groceries.
- Avoid contact with commonly touched surfaces when you go out. Such surfaces include things like door handles, elevator buttons and railings.
- Use a tissue, your sleeve or latex gloves to avoid contact with commonly touched surfaces.
- Avoid any unnecessary trips by plane or public transport.
Taking steps like these can help chronic lung disease patients reduce their risk of developing COVID-19, but if you do catch the coronavirus, make sure you notify your doctor immediately. Also, make contact with your family or friends by phone, email or text to let them know, and ensure anyone who offers to help care for you knows how to properly protect themselves from COVID-19.