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Comorbidity & Its Effect On COVID-19 – All You Need To Know

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Introduction

COVID-19, a novel coronavirus first reported in Wuhan, China, in 2019, has been affecting over 180 countries of the world. A respiratory syndrome that started with fever, cough, weakness and slowly affected the lungs and other parts of the body. 

The increased hospitalisation and the higher death risk is the main concern over COVID-19. 

As the knowledge over COVID-19 is still limited, various researches have been going on. Through these researches, one thing has been instigated that a person with comorbid conditions & COVID-19 may have an increased chance of developing a serious illness. 

What are the Comorbidities?

Comorbidities or Comorbid conditions are the total number of illnesses the person is suffering. It is an underlying health condition or a pre-existing chronic condition.  

These comorbidities can be high Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Liver or Kidney diseases, obesity, heart diseases, respiratory illnesses, autoimmune disorders, bleeding or clotting disorders, cancer, patients with organ transplant and many more. Those with untreated or uncontrolled underlying conditions are at a higher risk of developing serious symptoms and complications due to COVID.

How is it related to COVID-19 and affects it?

A person with comorbidities may have weaker immunity and other issues depending on the condition he/she is suffering from. And when they have been affected by the COVID-19, the infectious cycle of the virus may progress rapidly and severely. 

In addition, it increases the risk of hospitalisation, ICU management and the support of a ventilator. 

Also, the person with comorbidities of COVID-19 often lands up with deteriorating outcomes. C0VID-19 risk factors like previous lung disease and other comorbidities should be monitored and treated promptly to avoid any serious complications in future. 

Comorbid conditions & COVID-19

Most of the research data show that patients who passed away after the treatment for the SARS CoV-2 virus had some underlying medical conditions.

Some of these underlying medical conditions, i.e. comorbidities of COVID-19, are:

  • High Blood Pressure 
  • Diabetes or high blood sugar. 
  • Heart conditions such as a history of previous heart attack, blockage, history of any heart surgery. 
  • Lung diseases like Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Pneumonia, Asthma, pulmonary hypertension, cystic fibrosis.
  • Dementia or other mental health conditions.
  • Down Syndrome
  • Liver diseases
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Stroke or Cerebrovascular disease.
  • Kidney diseases
  • Obesity or being overweight.
  • Cancer patients receiving Chemotherapy. 
  • Patients on Immunosuppressive therapy (long term steroids and other immunosuppressant medicines).
  • Smokers
  • Pregnancy
  • Co-existing Infection like HIV

According to a few broader research studies, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart diseases  are the most common comorbidities of COVID-19 that may have significant potential for causing serious COVID infection on exposure to the virus and slow down recovery time. The number of comorbid conditions present in a person also influence the severity of symptoms on getting a COVID infection, i.e. a person with multiple comorbidities is at a higher risk of getting serious COVID.

They are already experiencing a problem from their underlying diseases that already put their body under stress. When they contact COVID-19, their body cannot handle the viral load that leads to significant complications and increases the chances of hospitalisation. 

Also, these people may need additional care as compared to the others.

The comorbid conditions and COVID-19 may be difficult to manage especially if there is a delay in seeking medical care.

Top measures to protect yourself from the virus

If one is already suffering from any comorbid conditions, it is best to take preventive measures, to avoid the risk of getting COVID-19 in the first place. 

There are some measures to be adopted like:

  • Follow COVID appropriate behaviour double masking, hand hygiene, physical distancing and respiratory etiquette.
  • Boost your immunity – As the immune system may be compromised, it is best to boost your immune system with some simple tips like eating healthy diets, adding fruits and vegetables to your daily diet and maintaining adequate hydration
  • Consult a doctor for a regular health checkup and understand various steps that you can take to keep yourself safe and healthy during this pandemic.
  • Continue taking your medications on time and follow your treatment for an underlying disease as per your doctor. 
  • Do not delay seeking a doctor’s consultation in case of any health issue or discomfort. Early diagnosis and treatment can help in preventing any adversity. 
  • According to your doctor, take medicinal supplements to boost Vitamin A, D and C levels, along with Zinc and Protein.
  • Know your triggering factor eg – If you have Asthma try your best to avoid the allergens. 
  • Get COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.
  • Stay indoors and stay safe. 
  • Limit your in-person interaction with other people. 
  • Wash your hands often, even when you are at home. 
  • Ventilate your room correctly, open your windows for proper ventilation as well as sunlight. 
  • Take steps to help yourself cope with stress and anxiety. 
  • Stay physically active. You may practice breathing exercises, yoga and pranayam after discussing with your doctor.
  • Disinfect common areas like doorknobs, door handles and vehicles.

Comorbidity and COVID-19 Vaccine – Is it safe?

It is investigated that individuals suffering from any comorbid conditions are more prone to COVID-19 risk factors. Therefore, they are more susceptible to getting a serious COVID infection. 

They must get vaccinated as soon as possible. 

As their body is already stressed and under load because of the underlying diseases, vaccination is one of the most important tools for protection against COVID-19. 

if one gets infected, then the vaccine is said to reduce the chances of getting a serious COVID infection. The individuals suffering from comorbidities & COVID-19 have been the uttermost priority for the government to get vaccinated and decrease deaths. 

Research has proven that the vaccine shows similar efficacy and safety in individuals with comorbidities also. 

It is considered safe to get vaccinated if you are suffering from any comorbidities. It should be the topmost priority to get vaccinated first to avoid any risks. You may consult your doctor before getting a vaccine as some patients like those on high dose immunosuppression and some other medicines may require a change in medications for a few days pre/post-vaccination. It is always safe to clear your doubts with your treating doctor as every individual may require a different approach.

Conclusion

COVID-19 itself is a significant health concern among all age groups and all genders. People suffering from medical conditions like heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure and other comorbidities are at a higher risk of falling severely ill if infected by COVID-19.

Patients with comorbidities should take all necessary precautions to avoid getting infected as they may have a poor prognosis. It may slow down the speed of recovery and increase your chances of getting hospital admission, ICU, long-term ventilator usage and death. 

It is essential to take proper precautionary measures and care the most to avoid contracting the virus. Follow the medical guidelines strictly and consult your doctor in case of any new symptoms or health problem arises. 

It is also crucial to always keep a tab on a diet, lifestyle to avoid further complications. Getting a full course of vaccination is very important for a person with comorbidities as said prevention is always better than cure.

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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