While the world grapples with the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare has become a topic of utmost importance for everyone. In terms of health risks, older members of society are at higher risk of facing severe complications due to COVID. However, people of all ages who live with chronic illnesses or comorbidities are also at a very high risk of adverse health effects brought on by COVID infection.
The reason for this higher risk factor is simple - the body is like a well-oiled machine, where each body part has to work together to maintain our health. However, if some of the organs aren't performing their functions properly, the "machine" starts breaking down. Let us discuss some of the most common chronic ailments that have been shown to increase risk of severe symptoms of COVID-19, and how to manage them.
Diabetes - It is common knowledge that living with diabetes limits the quality of life of patients. Having high blood sugar also causes the blood vessels to deteriorate, which understandably also affects the other organs, such as lung function. This also raises the risk of complications when afflicted with a viral infection such as COVID-19.
Heart Ailments - Hypertension, commonly known as High Blood Pressure (HBP), or any other underlying heart condition can increase the risk of complications due to COVID-19. As the virus affects the respiratory system, the lungs may be unable to supply the required amount of oxygen to the heart. This causes the heart to pump harder, leading to problems for those who already face heart ailments. This overexertion can ripple into a domino effect and start affecting other organs such as the kidneys and end in multiple organ failure.
Asthma - When living with asthma, the threat of a viral infection like COVID-19 becomes all the more severe. The virus is more likely to affect the respiratory tract - nose, throat and lungs of asthma patients. This can also lead to much higher chances of an asthma attack, and may even develop into pneumonia and cause severe damage to the respiratory system.
Managing the Conditions
The following steps can help reduce the risks of COVID-19, at least to levels that are common for people without a chronic ailment.
For those with diabetes
- Following a health plan that accounts for timely intake of insulin
- Reducing sugar intake
- Keeping simple carbohydrates stocked if you are at risk of low blood sugar
For those with heart ailments
- Monitoring your heart rate
- Meditation to help with stress and anxiety
- Avoiding overexertion
- Reducing sodium intake to manage hypertension
For those with asthma
- Stocking up on extra asthma inhalers for emergencies
- Teaching younger patients such as children how to use their inhalers independently
- Avoiding triggers for asthma attacks such as dust or other allergens
- Keeping all medical equipment such as nebulizers and oximeters handy
For general good health
- Keeping necessary medications stocked to reduce the number of trips to the pharmacy
- Maintaining good hygiene
- Staying physically active
- Eating a well balanced diet
- Contacting your healthcare provider immediately when needed
Living With a Chronic Condition
Regardless of the pandemic, living with chronic ailments is a daily challenge. The tips mentioned here are just the tip of the iceberg of managing your health. Keeping your primary physician informed about your health and heeding their advice is often the best and simplest way to keep your chronic condition and overall quality of life in check. Life throws many challenges our way, and the best way to face them head on is to be prepared. The pandemic is one such challenge, which has led to a much-needed shift in priorities from purely professional, to a future that encompasses good health for all.
Share on Linkedin