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Emphysema patients, at high risk of coronavirus infection

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on March 24th, 2020

People who struggle with emphysema are considerably more susceptible to contracting the new virus, as they have underlying lung problems and a weak immune system. Furthermore, they also have a great chance of developing health complications if they become infected with the coronavirus, which may be fatal.

The coronavirus pandemic is spreading throughout the world at a fast pace, with over 3 million diagnosed cases and more than 134,000 deaths at the moment. While everyone is susceptible to contracting the new virus, there are certain demographics that are at high risk of developing serious health complications if they become infected. These groups of people include patients suffering from emphysema, a lung disease that currently affects 3.5 million individuals in the U.S.

What is emphysema?

As a lung disease, emphysema damages the alveoli, which are the air sacs of the lungs, thereby making breathing very difficult for people who struggle with it. In a person with emphysema, the alveoli fail to function properly, as they weaken and rupture, producing large spaces instead of small cavities. Consequently, the patient will experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, frequent lung infections, fatigue, sleep problems, and loss of appetite. The number of people who lose their lives to emphysema yearly is approximately 8,000.

What causes emphysema?

The causes of emphysema are tobacco smoking, air pollution, and exposure to toxic substances such as asbestos. A naturally occurring mineral, asbestos is classified as a known carcinogen by multiple national and international health organizations. When asbestos fibers become airborne, people unavoidably inhale harmful particles, which may lead to the development of emphysema or other severe lung diseases within 20 to 50 years of the first exposure. During the last century, there were many occupations in which asbestos use was regular, including shipyard worker, electrician, chemical plant worker, insulator, power plant worker, carpenter, textile mill worker, and steamfitters. Therefore, people who had one of these jobs before 1980 are now at high risk of receiving a diagnosis of emphysema.

Why are emphysema patients at high risk of coronavirus infection?

Because people who struggle with emphysema have poor lung function and a weak immune system, infection with coronavirus is significantly more likely to occur. Furthermore, the risk of complications such as respiratory system failure and even death is also higher, since the lungs of emphysema patients are extremely damaged. It is worthy of note that the vast majority of people who suffer from emphysema are between the ages of 40 and 60, which only increases the chances of coronavirus infection, as the elderly are another demographic at great risk of contracting the new virus.

The most common symptoms of coronavirus infection are a persisting cough, fever, and shortness of breath, but it may also cause an inability to stand up, chest pain, and confusion if health complications are taking place. However, the symptoms of infection with the new virus are very similar to those of emphysema, as the former also targets the respiratory system, which makes distinguishing between the two health issues very difficult. If you experience a new onset of symptoms or if the symptoms you already have worsen, please seek medical attention immediately, as you may have contracted the virus. Left untreated, coronavirus can be fatal, particularly if you are over 60 and have underlying lung diseases.

Emphysema patients may be eligible for financial compensation

It is important to know that if your emphysema diagnosis is a result of occupational asbestos exposure, you can recover financial compensation for your physical and emotional suffering. Our attorneys, who specialize in this area of practice and who have been pursuing asbestos exposure cases for the last 30 years, will provide you with the legal assistance you need to file a claim with the asbestos trust funds of the companies which manufactured the products you were exposed to on the job. If you are a veteran, we will also file a claim with the VA, as they offer financial compensation in asbestos exposure cases as well.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to take legal action immediately, since asbestos exposure cases have a statute of limitations of 3 years from the moment you are assigned your emphysema diagnosis. As a consequence, if the statute of limitations expires, you are no longer eligible for compensation. If you decide to seek compensation, your attorney will expedite your claim to recover the money you need as soon as possible. The financial compensation you will eventually receive will help you afford superior healthcare and treatment, so taking legal action in this respect is absolutely worth it.