Are You at a Higher Risk of Experiencing Complications if You Get Infected with COVID-19?
What are the pre-existing conditions that make COVID-19 worse?
Case studies and research conducted on COVID-19 patients have shown that older people and/or those who have any pre-existing health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart condition, may fall at a higher risk of experiencing severe symptoms if they become Covid positive.
Seniors above the age of 80 years
Men and women in the older age category have a greater risk of suffering dangerous and life-threatening symptoms. The risks become multifold for the elderly people if they are suffering from other pre-existing health conditions like diabetes, heart condition, etc. Therefore, it is imperative for older people to take all medications for their pre-existing conditions, as prescribed by their doctor. To make things convenient, a care package could be created with information about their current medical/health conditions, medications, name, and contact of their doctors, and other emergency contacts. This could be useful during any medical emergencies.
As COVID-19 attacks the lungs, individuals who already have lung problems such as the below are highly likely to suffer severe symptoms.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Moderate to severe asthma
- Cystic fibrosis
- Lung cancer
- Pulmonary fibrosis
It is good to connect with your consulting doctor to discuss and continue maintenance medications that can keep your symptoms under control. You may also want to take your doctor’s opinion about keeping an emergency kit of prescription medicines, like asthma inhalers for any unexpected situations. People who suffer from asthma or allergies would be better off if they avoid areas or situations that worsen their condition like pollen, tobacco smoke, dust mites, and chill air, to avoid any triggers.
Different heart diseases can leave your health condition vulnerable, increasing your chances to develop severe COVID-19 symptoms. These include:
- Congenital heart disease
- ulmonary hypertension
- Heart failure
- Coronary artery disease
It’s always great to be in touch and discuss with your doctor if you have any concerns. Additionally, continue with your regular medicines exactly as directed. If your pre-existing health conditions are not under control, it might pose a high risk of experiencing serious complications if you contract COVID-19. This means that if you suffer from hypertension or diabetes, you need to have blood pressure as well as blood sugar levels in control with regular medications as advised by the doctor.
Obesity and Diabetes
A higher BMI (body mass index) that ranges anywhere between overweight and severely obese increases the risk of COVID complications. Both Diabetes and obesity can impair your immune system. Generally, Diabetes poses an increased risk of infections and also increases the chances of suffering complications if one contracts COVID-19. This risk can significantly be lowered by having blood sugar in control and taking insulin and other diabetes medications as per your doctor’s instructions.
Health Conditions & Treatments that Weaken Immune System
Disease like cancer severely impacts your immunity and can increase complications during COVID-19. Treatments for cancer can weaken your body’s ability to fight off disease. A healthy person’s immune system is able to fight the pathogens that cause diseases. But some treatments and certain conditions such as the below may impair the immune system.
- Organ transplants
- Bone marrow transplants
- Cancer treatments
If your immunity is already weakened, it is good to take additional care to avoid contracting the COVID-19 virus.
How does body defence work to prevent disease?
Pathogens are disease-causing microorganisms that are made up of several subparts. The subpart that causes the formation of antibodies is called an antigen. When we’re exposed to an antigen, our immune system quickly responds and creates antibodies that fight the antigen and save us from the disease. When these specific antibodies are produced, they work with the rest of the immune system to destroy the pathogen and stop the disease.
How to boost body immunity?
Our immune system is like our body’s soldier and it acts as a barrier against any foreign bodies that enter the human body, including many viruses and bacteria. When an antibody recognizes the antigen of an invading pathogen, it firmly binds itself onto it. Once attached, it behaves like a beacon that signals other elements of the immune system to attack the invading pathogen and free the body from it. Therefore, it is critical to work towards boosting your immune system and increasing its fighting power to be able to fight back disease-causing pathogens. Here are some important tips to strengthen your immune system:
Regular Exercise: Though moderate-intensity physical activity contributes to generating a healthier immune system, in some cases high-intensity and high-volume training may work in a negative manner and further suppress the immune function, especially if the person is unaccustomed to it. So, it is important to maintain a balance in your workout program and increase its intensity gradually.
Getting Quality Sleep: Sleep is one of the most important factors that is required for optimal immune function, mental and physical health, and quality of life. The CDC and American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends 7 or more hours of sleep for adults, 8-10 hours for teens, 9-12 hours for school-age children, 10-13 hours for preschoolers (including naps), and 11-14 hours for toddlers (including naps) in a 24-hour period.
Relaxation/ Mindfulness: Stress has increased in today’s lifestyle but having stress on a chronic level (such as constant worry about the job or financial security, relationships, personal or family health concerns) is toxic, and over time, can bring down our immunologic health. People have become conscious of this and work with experts to train in the art of meditation/mindfulness. The art of mindfulness trains your brain and therefore can help in reducing the effects of stress on the body’s immune system if practised regularly. In today’s tech age, you could also consider taking help to unwind from apps like Headspace, aura, breathe, etc. or practice yoga every day with platforms like Daily Yoga or Yoga studio.
Healthy, Nutrient-Rich Diet: To improve our chances to fight COVID-19 and avoid any complications, it is imperative that we keep our bodies in good shape and take all steps to keep our existing health condition in control. Diet plays a major role in achieving this objective as it provides us with the ammunition to boost our immunity.
To keep fit, we need to focus on eating lesser carbohydrates as this helps in controlling high blood sugar and pressure. Regular consumption of fruits and vegetables high in Beta carotene, Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) & other vital vitamins and minerals is essential to build our power to fight diseases. Certain foods like tomato, bell pepper, mushroom and green vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and spinach play a key part in building resilience against infections.
Adding supplements rich in omega 3 & 6 fatty acids to your daily diet keeps your heart and blood pressure in good health. Gooseberries (amla), ginger, and turmeric are natural immunity supplements that are common ingredients in Indian dishes and snacks. There are various herbs and spices that boost immunity such as basil leaves, garlic, cumin, cloves, and peppercorns. You could learn more about healthy foods through apps like Nutrients - Nutrition Facts, SuperFood - Healthy Recipes and include them in your daily diet.
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