Covid-19 is so challenging and confounding to everyone in so many ways, especially health experts who are in a desperate race to put all the pieces together.
From my perspective, one thing (there are so many!) that is so very odd: Why do some people who test positive for the virus have mild – or no – symptoms, while others are suffering and worse, dying? It’s so hard to believe that this dichotomy is being played out by one single virus.
Some health experts are saying that people with underlying conditions are among those who experience more serious illness from coronavirus.
The CDC says those underlying conditions include diabetes, chronic lung disease and asthma, heart disease and undergoing cancer treatment. Additionally, those with kidney or liver failure may also be at higher risk.
People with some neurological conditions, too, no matter what their age, may be more at risk because of the medications they take to control their condition. These medications could compromise their immune system, reports CNN. (The exception to this medication rule might be Parkinson’s disease, which has its own inflammatory components that might harm the immune system.)
And then there are disorders like muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): These all might cause paralysis to the diaphragm, which could in turn put those affected at high risk for respiratory failure if infected with Covid-19.
Our immune system’s job is to protect against disease and any other threatening and potentially damaging pathogens, and having an underlying condition makes it tougher for the immune system to fight off a virus. When our body senses foreign substances, our immune system seeks them out and attacks them. In fact, every day the immune system is under attack, and most of the time we don’t even realize it.
Those with an underlying condition may develop a fever, shortness of breath or a cough more easily than those without a preexisting illness, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.
Aside from preexisting conditions, we’re hearing that being over age 65 puts you more at risk. The reasons vary:
- As we age, we’re more likely to have long-term health problems.
- Age also naturally weakens the immune system, making it tougher to fight off infections.
- Lung tissue quality weakens over time (starting at around age 35). Keep your lungs healthy by not smoking, avoiding air pollutants, getting regular exercise and watching your weight.
We all feel at risk; it’s tough not to when you hear about young, healthy people who are also affected and dying. Along with feeling at risk comes the feeling of helplessness.
But there are things we can do.
Remember, we are all in this together. It’s our responsibility to protect one another – not just ourselves – and one of the best ways to do this is to stay home as much as possible. When you do go out, wear a mask and maintain social distancing of at least six feet.
Additionally, protect yourself by washing your hands frequently and for 20 seconds, cleaning and disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces (like phones, remote controls and other electronics, light switches and doorknobs). And if someone in your household is sick, have them stay in a separate bedroom and use a separate bathroom if possible, using a separate dedicated lined trash can. Avoid sharing common household items (like dishes, towels and bedding), and have them wear a face covering (or if they cannot, make sure you wear one).
Wishing everyone good health, and a quick end to this pandemic.