During this time of COVID-19, many people have some general information about COvID-19 including the knowledge that individuals over 65 years of age are at higher risk of contracting and dying from the virus. People who already have existing chronic or rare diseases (like diabetes or cardiovascular disease) are up to ten times more likely to contract COVID-19 than the general population.
A recent webinar of health care experts, CDC representatives, and medical doctors hosted a ‘COVID-19 and the Chronic Disease Community’ webinar recently. William Bommer, MD, and director of noninvasive services at UC Davis Health was just one of the medical professionals who spoke at the event, attended by over 2,000 people.
What are some things people with existing chronic disease can do to stay safe?
- Practice social distancing
It is important to keep the virus away from those who are at high risk. One of the most important things to do to stay safe is to maintain at least six feet from all people when outside.
- Maintain cleanliness
Bommer says that washing hands frequently and sterilizing one’s home is a good way for those with high risk to stay safe.
What Happens if Someone with High Risk Starts Exhibiting Symptoms?
The symptoms of COVID-19 are a dry cough, sore throat, headache, muscle pain, or body aches. Health experts during the webinar advised those with high risk to watch the symptoms closely. However, if someone has a fever they should contact their doctor.
Other At-Risk Groups
Experts during the webinar also emphasized that not only are those with preexisting health conditions at greater risk, but those in lower socioeconomic conditions are as well. For example, people who do not have access to health care, people who have functional or communication disabilities, homeless people, and racial minorities are examples of people who are at high risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19 as well.
Special Consideration for Chronic Disease Patients
The COVID-19 pandemic is also affecting those with chronic health issues in other ways, because it is potentially interfering with people’s routine health checkups and maintenance.
During the webinar, Bommer also focused on patients who have chronic lung disease. These individuals are already at a higher risk of disease and hospitalization because treating lung disease can lead to immunosuppression. Furthermore, many health care providers are being flooded with COVID cases and resources are going to this health crisis. As a result, many pulmonologists therefore are not doing the routine pulmonary or breathing tests for patients. Many optional or elective surgeries are not being done as well.
In addition to incorporating strategies to stay safe and avoid COVID-19, another specific health issue for those with chronic diseases is to communicate and plan with their health care providers to make sure they get their routine care to manage their condition during this time.
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