Categories: Coronavirus

Coronavirus and Chronic Disease: Guide for Asthmatics, Diabetic Patients, COPD And Others Suffering from Chronic Illness

The novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 is relatively new and there is limited information regarding the risk factors for this chronic disease. According to the findings so far, based on clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age with underlying medical conditions are more likely to suffer from severe illness caused by the virus.

So, what are these underlying health conditions that we need to care about? And does this mean that all the people having a long-term health issue or chronic illness will suffer from the complications caused by COVID-19?

Fortunately, that’s not the case.

People with underlying health conditions also have been seen to recover completely from the virus. However, they have a higher chance of developing complications, such as shortness of breath and pneumonia. In some cases, they may also need a ventilator to help them breathe as well as intensive hospital treatment to recover.

Moreover, some evidence has shown that individuals with diabetes of any kind are at a higher risk of developing complications and needing intensive medical care due to the virus. Other people who may be seriously affected are people with underlying heart conditions, lung conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Hence, in addition to following good hygiene measures, washing your hands and practising social distancing, you must pay attention to a few other things as well to minimise your risk. The following are a few of the long-term health issues that we need to pay extra care and attention to.


Estimates show that more than four hundred million people worldwide have diabetes. People with diabetes have either become resistant to the effects of insulin or do not produce enough of the hormone. Without enough insulin, the sugar in blood could reach harmful levels.

High blood sugar levels can suppress the immune system which is why diabetics are at the top of the Coronavirus risk list. With poorly controlled blood sugar levels, the white blood cells that fight off infection tend to reduce in number and become weaker, leaving you prone to catching infections and developing complications from them.

With the current situation at hand, irrespective of the type of diabetes that one has, it’s important to learn to manage the sugar levels. It’s recommended to consult with the doctor who’s treating your diabetes and double-check if you’re on the right medication. Many patients tend to forget to take their medicines or only take them when they believe it’s necessary. Make sure that you don’t make that mistake and take the prescribed medication as instructed by the doctor.

Diabetics also need to improve their diet and increase their physical activity levels. This will help to regulate the sugar levels in their body and boost their immune system to have the best defence against the coronavirus. Some of the foods that diabetics need to cut down or reduce from their diet are potatoes, pasta, bread, chapattis, cakes, sweets and anything that’s high in carbohydrates.

If you’re self-isolating, try out some basic exercises at home or take a brisk walk around the garden for ten to fifteen minutes a day. Besides, make it a habit to use the stairs a few times a day. This is enough to get your heart pumped up and breathing a bit harder, all of which work very well to improve your overall physical health.

Heart conditions

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women of all races across the world. Therefore, managing your heart condition is critical during this coronavirus outbreak.

People with high blood pressure or high cholesterol don’t always have any noticeable physical symptoms of these conditions. So, they don’t take their medication as prescribed. Over time, this can put a substantial amount of pressure on the heart and affect the proper flow of blood through the body, making the individual more prone to infections.

Like diabetics, people with heart conditions also need to take their medications on time and make changes to their diet and lifestyle choices. The same dietary advice works here as well. Avoid carbohydrate-rich foods and include more vegetables in your diet. Lean meat such as chicken as well as fish can be included in the diet. Bringing these simple changes may just save your life.

Asthma and COPD

A significant part of the total world population is affected by the conditions of asthma and COPD. Usually, two types of inhalers may be prescribed for people with significant asthma or COPD – preventers and relievers. Preventers have to be taken every day even if you’re feeling all right as they help in improving your background lung function and eliminate any chances of worsening your condition. Relievers, on the other hand, are not required as much. They’re usually taken when you are feeling short of breath or wheezy.

If you use your reliever inhaler more than twice or thrice a week, it indicates that your background lung health has some issues. You need to consult your doctor to check whether your current treatment needs to be stepped up. Having good background lung health is essential; it’ll significantly reduce the risks of developing Coronavirus complications including severe respiratory problems and pneumonia.

Helpline for Coronavirus: For latest updates

Chat with us on our WhatsApp helpline – 1800 4250 4250 in case of any questions or concerns about COVID-19.Also Read: HOW TO TEST FOR CORONAVIRUS?

Dr. Satish Kaul | Senior Consultant & Director Internal Medicine | Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Gurugram

Narayana Health

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