04-30-2020 General

Does Having a Chronic Illness Increase My Risk for COVID-19?

Many people have, understandably, become very concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic. These concerns are justified, and it seems as if the entire world is searching for ways to protect themselves from COVID-19. The vast majority of people who contact COVID-19 make a full recovery. However, although research is evolving, it seems clear that having a chronic illness can increase your health risk if you contract COVID-19.

Why Chronic Illnesses Can Increase Your Risk

According to Harvard Health Publishing, several factors appear to increase your risk for severe complications and death if you contract COVID-191. These factors include numerous chronic diseases (such as diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease), as well as being over the age of 65 and smoking. The reason for this is not yet entirely clear, but there are numerous theories about why this is the case. For example, it is thought that previous chronic diseases may leave your immune system weakened and in a worse condition to fight off COVID, or that vital organs like your lungs are left damaged and thus less able to fight off a COVID infection. It is also thought that your immune system may "overreact" to a COVID infection, causing potential complications that can damage your body. While the exact reasoning is unknown, the hypothesis that chronic conditions can lead to worse COVID outcomes appears to be backed by available empirical evidence. For example, an early analysis conducted by the CDC found that 73% of all individuals who were hospitalized from COVID ultimately had an underlying condition which likely contributed to the need for them to be hospitalized2.

Which Chronic Illnesses Appear to Be Worst

As noted by the CDC, some chronic conditions appear to increase the risk for suffering from major COVID-19 complications more than others3. These include an array of relatively common chronic conditions, including:

  • Lung disease
  • Asthma
  • Heart conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Severe obesity
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney conditions, and more.

Again, the research on this issue is still evolving, and only time and future study will give us a better idea of which conditions are truly the most damaging for COVID-19. However, there appears to be a rule of thumb for risks of severe complications from COVID-19: The sicker you already are, the sicker you will likely become if you contract COVID-19.

How to Protect Yourself From COVID-19

The CDC recommends continuing to take all of your prescriptions, as normal, and ensuring that you have access to all of your prescriptions4. If you have trouble affording your prescription, there are discount Rx coupon or discount Rx card that you should be able to use. A discount Rx coupon or discount Rx card can help you afford your prescription and ensure that there is no interruption of your medications. This is very important for the purposes of keeping yourself healthy.

All standard COVID-19 precautions apply to individuals with chronic conditions - indeed, perhaps more so, given their high-risk factor5. This means that individuals should practice social distancing and only leave the house when absolutely necessary. Don't come within close contact with anyone who doesn't live in your household. Practice good hygiene and wash your hands on a regular basis. If you must sneeze or cough, make sure to do so into your arm or elbow, and encourage others who live in your house to do the same. Make sure you disinfect and clean commonly used surfaces on a regular basis. Unfortunately, individuals with chronic conditions do appear to be more likely to get sick from COVID-19. However, thankfully, practicing social distancing and standard precautions can help you prevent contracting the disease in the first place.

Related Content: 

Sources

1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/covid-19-if-youre-older-and-have-chronic-health-problems-read-this-2020040119396

2. https://www.sciencealert.com/more-than-70-of-americans-hospitalised-with-covid-19-had-at-least-1-underlying-health-condition-the-cdc-says

3. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-at-higher-risk.html

4. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/groups-at-higher-risk.html

5. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html