Underlying conditions that affect COVID
Since coronavirus hit the streets, we have been warned that people with comorbidities and pre-existing underlying conditions were at higher risk of contracting COVID19 than the rest of us
An underlying health condition is a long-term or chronic illness that weakens the immune system. COVID19 is a virus, so if you have a compromised immune system, you are obviously more susceptible to picking it up.
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Which specific underlying conditions are problematic?
Some of the underlying medical conditions affect all ages. These include chronic lung disease, serious heart conditions, obesity (specifically with a body mass index of 30 or more), type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease that requires dialysis, sickle cell disease, pregnancy and smoking.
Obesity and diabetes reduce the efficiency of the immune system. Generally, diabetes increases the risk of infections. The risk of infections, including with COVID-19, can be reduced by keeping blood sugar levels controlled, as well as continuing with medication specifically for diabetics and insulin.
There is a higher risk of serious illness for people who have heart diseases such as cardiomyopathy, pulmonary hypertension, congenital heart disease, heart failure or coronary artery disease. Having high blood pressure also increases one’s risk if not kept under control and if medications aren’t taken as prescribed.
Cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplant, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune-weakening medications are conditions that can cause you to be immunocompromised.
Medical practitioners continue to analyse and gather evidence that highlight further conditions that heighten your risk for severe disease. With the immune system being put under increased pressure, these patients are not “well-equipped” to deal with COVID-19. Symptoms can manifest as fairly mild for some, but to others, the symptoms can potentially be deadly, especially to those who suffer from respiratory problems, heart disease and people who have organs that aren’t functioning full capacity. The cough associated with coronavirus could be deadly. Doctors could therefore be limited to the type of drugs that they are allowed to prescribe.
If asthmatic, it may be helpful to avoid triggers of asthma. These triggers vary from person to person and can include pollen, dust mites, tobacco smoke and cold air. Stress and strong emotions can also worsen asthma attacks, and then there are others who cannot be around bold odours. Smoking and vaping can also harm the lungs and therefore increase serious implications with COVID-19.
The older a person is, the higher that person’s risk of contracting a severe illness. Those aged 85 or older are at the greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Should anyone in that age group contract the virus, it may require them to be hospitalised, placed in intensive care, hooked up to a ventilator to assist with breathing and worse, they may die.
The elderly should take their medications as prescribed, and a care plan should be developed. The care plan must include information about the patient’s medical conditions, medications, doctors’ names and emergency contacts.
Other people to consider who need extra precautions include people living in rural communities, people with disabilities, people with developmental and behavioural disorders, homeless people, people with seasonal allergies, as well as racial and ethnic minority groups. Attached to these groups are the people who are supporting those who need extra precautions. For example, those who care for people with disabilities (at group homes for people with disabilities too), carers who assist with developmental and behavioural disorders, caregivers of people living with dementia, health providers at nursing homes and long-term care facilities, as well as newly resettled refugee populations.
Residents at nursing homes are at high risk because of their multiple underlying health problems, and their advanced age. Germs spread easily among people who live in close proximity to each other, and that is why it is important to follow the guidelines that highlight infection prevention. Residents should inquire about the protection measures and should inform the nursing home staff if they are feeling ill.
Prevention with underlying conditions
There are more ways to prevent developing serious COVID-19 symptoms, especially for those who have underlying conditions. Have a 30-day supply of your regular prescription arranged and see if all your vaccinations are up to date, particularly for influenza and pneumonia. Preferably, arrange with your doctor to stay at home for a few weeks.
Keep all social visits to a minimum and outside. Arrange for delivery orders, rather than physically going into the shops. Most importantly, if you are feeling symptoms of the virus, make contact with your health practitioner immediately or call the local emergency department.