Managing Chronic Conditions to Reduce Your Risk of COVID-19 Infection
COVID-19 symptoms can vary widely. While many may experience little to no symptoms, the impact for some is long-term and life-threatening. With COVID-19 cases still rampant and coinciding with flu season in the United States, health experts have continued to express the importance of proper protection and unnecessary risk avoidance. This advice is particularly crucial for individuals with chronic health conditions because they are more susceptible to infections due to an already weakened immune system and organs unable to fight the virus.
If you have a chronic condition, now is the time to get it under control. Checking in regularly with your primary doctor and adhering to a healthy diet, lifestyle, and medication plan for your condition can save your life. Here are some of the most prominent chronic conditions that can increase your risk of contracting and suffering from COVID-19. Please keep in mind, this list is not all-inclusive, and any type of chronic disease that weakens your immune system or internal organs can increase your risk of contracting COVID-19 and suffering from more serious symptoms of the virus.
Top Chronic Conditions
- Lung Illnesses
Since COVID-19 targets the lungs, if you have chronic lung conditions, such as lung cancer, pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, or asthma, your risk of developing serious coronavirus symptoms are significantly higher. To decrease your risk, take your maintenance medications consistently and avoid situations or activities that can trigger breathing problems or asthma attacks (pollen, cold air, strong odors, stress, and tobacco smoke).
Having diabetes can damage your blood vessels and cause inflammation, which can lead to respiratory insufficiencies and increase your risk of developing infections and complications if you contract COVID-19. To mitigate your risk, have a healthy supply of insulin and diabetes medications at home, as well as a stock of simple carbs, such as hard candies and honey, to keep your blood sugar up in an emergency.
- Heart Disease
Having underlying heart conditions, such as pulmonary hypertensions, cardiomyopathy, heart failure, or congenital heart disease, can increase the severity of any infection. It is important to take your medications as prescribed to limit your chances of getting the coronavirus which can result in weaker heart muscles, higher blood pressure, added stress, and even multi-organ failures.
- Kidney Disease
If you have a chronic kidney disease, your immune system may already be weakened, making you more of a target for contracting COVID-19 and the associated symptoms. If you are receiving dialysis treatments for your chronic kidney disease, it is crucial you don’t miss a dialysis appointment and keep your doctor well informed on how you are feeling.
Along with everyday precautions, if you have a chronic condition and want to avoid the development of life-threatening COVID-19 symptoms, health experts also suggest the following:
- Confirm that all of your vaccinations are up to date.
- Have at least one month’s supply of your daily prescriptions at home.
- Connect with your doctor via phone call or video conference if you have any questions regarding your current medical conditions.
- Continue to practice social distancing and only see others outdoors.
- Have your groceries and medications delivered to your home instead of going out.
In a time full of uncertainties, take your health into your hands as much as possible by properly managing your chronic condition and following CDC COVID-19 best practices. Your health plan offers resources such as access to hotlines staffed by nurses who can help you take the first step. To connect, call the Customer Service number on the back of your insurance card, or you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also want to check out some of our additional Coronavirus related blogs to help you stay healthy and safe.