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COVID-19 Outbreak: Which Patients With Underlying Lung Conditions Are at High Risk?

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on March 19th, 2020

In the United States, about 60% of the people suffer from one of the chronic health problems and the remaining 40% have more than one chronic disease. With the growing number of COVID-19 cases being reported, the people with underlying lung conditions need to be vigilant.

Though most cases of COVID-19 are mild, the patients with long-term health problems and weaker immune systems are worse affected by the virus. It has been found that the people who have a severe underlying respiratory disease will be more prone to the novel coronavirus infection than the others. These patients are more likely to have worsening shortness of breath along with swelling around their lungs, and life-threatening infection. Factors such as infection and morbidity are of greater concern in people suffering from chronic lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD-chronic bronchitis or emphysema) and asthma. Certainly, the chronic lung conditions that lead to complications following the coronavirus infection are more common in older individuals. The death rate has been estimated to be 6.5% among the group of COVID-19 patients with underlying chronic respiratory diseases such as COPD and asthma.

Patients With the Following Underlying Lung Conditions Are at Higher Risk of COVID-19

  • Lung Cancer: Although there are ongoing studies, scientists have revealed that patients with lung cancer have a greater risk of developing a serious illness as a result of coronavirus infection, which may require intensive care, treatment with oxygen or intubation, and mechanical ventilation.
  • Bronchiectasis: As patients suffering from bronchiectasis are at higher risk of complications if they contract the coronavirus infection, all the preventive measures including proper hygiene and social distancing need to be practiced. Patients with bronchiectasis should perform airway clearance exercises regularly to clear mucus.
  • Tuberculosis: Though the presence of tuberculosis does not affect the severity of coronavirus infection, the treatment of COVID-19 may become complicated because of the drug interactions. However, it is important to continue with tuberculosis medications even if you are feeling unwell.
  • COPD and asthma: Nearly 16 million people in the United States have COPD. The patients with COPD and asthma will often have disrupted epithelial lining in their lungs or damage in the cellular barrier that protect the lungs. This, in turn, makes it easy for the virus to invade the other parts of the body making them prone to infections. Uncontrolled asthma causes inflammation of the airways, which is likely to be exacerbated by coronavirus infection that also targets the airways. Coronavirus can trigger symptoms of asthma and lead to an asthma attack. Therefore, the patients with underlying lung conditions such as COPD and asthma are at a greater risk of developing a serious form of COVID-19, particularly, if their pre-existing condition was not under control.

Taking Certain Precautions Can Help Patients With Underlying Lung Conditions

If patients with chronic lung disease get infected with coronavirus, they become prone to additional bacterial infection, which further increases their risk of severe illness and death. Here are some steps that can be taken to lower the risk of getting sick from coronavirus:

  • Social distancing: A distance of six feet or more should be maintained between yourself and an outsider. Limit contact with people outside your family as much as possible.
  • Keep your hands clean by frequent washing with soap and water for 20-30 seconds.
  • Staying away from people who have symptoms such as dry cough and fever.
  • Stay home as long as possible, if there is a COVID-19 outbreak in your community.
  • Keep your chronic lung disease (asthma or COPD) well under control by following the doctors' recommendations and taking medications as advised.

Asbestos-Related Underlying Lung Conditions Make You Eligible for Financial Compensation

Asbestos-related lung diseases, generally have symptoms such as a chronic cough and shortness of breath. If you have been exposed to asbestos at your job, for instance, in construction or shipping industries, in the Navy, your underlying lung condition may be a result of the lodgment of asbestos fibers in your lungs. It is important to reach out to an experienced asbestos lawyer as early as possible to see if you have a claim.

At Environmental Litigation Group, we help victims of asbestos exposure and their families receive their compensation. Currently, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, we make sure their claims get expedited.