Here’s an update on the coronavirus and underlying conditions that can increase your risk for severe illness.
In this article:
- What Are the Mild and Severe Symptoms of COVID-19?
- What Underlying Conditions Increase the Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness?
- How About Other Underlying Conditions?
- Should You Avoid Certain Medications?
- What Can You Do to Protect Yourself Against COVID-19?
Coronavirus: Underlying Conditions May Increase Your Risks
The United States currently has the most number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. Approximately 80% of the people who died from COVID-19 were over 65 years old.
Only 3% of the deaths occurred in people under 40 years old. Researchers have identified certain factors that increase the risk of severe coronavirus symptoms.
What Are the Mild and Severe Symptoms of COVID-19?
The coronavirus can affect different people in different ways. Some people experience mild symptoms, while others can experience more severe symptoms and require hospitalization.
The mild symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Aches and pains
- Skin rash
- Discoloration of toes and fingers
- Loss of smell
- Loss of taste
The severe symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Chest pressure
- Loss of speech
- Loss of movement
Anyone exhibiting serious symptoms will require immediate medical attention. It’s important to note that there are more people with COVID-19 who experience mild to moderate illness. However, there are others who are more at risk for severe COVID-19 illness.
What Underlying Conditions Increase the Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness?
COVID-19 is a new disease, and scientists are learning more about it every day. From the information gathered around the world, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified people who are at a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 illness.
These people include:
- Individuals who are 65 years old or older
- Residents of long-term care facilities (ex: nursing homes)
- Individuals with certain underlying medical conditions
The underlying conditions that increase the risk are:
- Chronic lung disease
- Chronic kidney diseases which require dialysis
- Serious cardiovascular conditions
- Liver disease
- Severe obesity
- Moderate to severe asthma
- Any other condition that compromises the immune system
Many medical conditions can make people immunocompromised. For example, people with HIV or AIDS can be immunocompromised when they don’t control their condition with the proper medication.
Sometimes, it’s not the disease itself that compromises the immune system, but the treatment for the disease. For instance, cancer treatment, bone marrow transplants, organ transplants, or long-term use of corticosteroids can weaken the immune system.
People with disabilities aren’t automatically at a higher risk for COVID-19, but certain disabilities are associated with other health conditions. For instance, specific physical disabilities may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease because of mobility impairment.
People with the underlying conditions above are at a higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness, especially if their conditions are not well-controlled. Individuals with underlying conditions that are not well-controlled are medically unstable.
How About Other Underlying Conditions?
The CDC does not list any other underlying conditions that put individuals at a higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness. They gather information from the health sector in the United States and worldwide to develop their COVID-19 recommendations.
They also consider the risks associated with other respiratory infections. Since the coronavirus is a relatively new disease, the search for more answers is ongoing, and the CDC will continually update the list.
Should You Avoid Certain Medications?
According to the CDC, there’s no evidence showing that certain medications, like naproxen or ibuprofen, increase the risk for severe COVID-19 illness. It’s important to talk to a medical professional before making any changes in the treatment of pre-existing conditions.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself Against COVID-19?
Regardless of risk, the CDC recommends that everyone takes steps to protect themselves against COVID-19. Here are some things you can do to stay safe:
- Make a habit of washing or sanitizing your hands. If you’re using soap and water, wash for at least 20 seconds. If you don’t have access to clean water and soap, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Practice social distancing around sick people. Isolate household members who are sick. If you need to interact with them, try staying 6 feet away.
- Practice social distancing outside your home. Try to stay 6 feet away from people you don’t live with.
- Use a face cover. Anyone over 2 years old should use a face cover when they’re outside and around other people. The face cover should cover your nose and mouth.
- Cough and sneeze correctly. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze, dispose of the tissue properly, and wash your hands immediately. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze, or cough in your elbow.
- Clean and disinfect regularly. Clean high-touch surfaces with a disinfectant. Examples of high-touch surfaces include countertops, phones, light switches, toilets, sinks, and doorknobs.
Remember, people can spread COVID-19 even if they don’t feel sick. So these measures help keep everyone safe.
Regardless of the risk factors, everyone should stay vigilant against COVID-19. To curb infection, it’s important to limit the time you spend outside of your home.
These days, there are a variety of online services that’ll help keep you in the safety of your own home—including health care services. With Stream MD, you can get screened by a doctor from the comfort of your own home. Get in touch with them to learn more about your consultation options.
How are you staying safe during this pandemic? Share your safety tips with us in the comments section below.