Covid-19 and People with Pre-Existing Lung Conditions - Institute for Respiratory Health

Covid-19 and People with Pre-Existing Lung Conditions

Female nurse consults with woman about lung health

If you have a pre-existing lung condition such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease you may be particularly concerned about the current COVID-19 situation. For example, you may feel that you are at a higher risk of acquiring COVID-19 than someone who does not have an underlying lung condition and that you might not recognise the fact that you are infected with COVID-19. You may also feel that you are now more susceptible, either to acquiring it, and/or suffering a more severe form of disease if infected. Whilst there are some preliminary data to suggest that having asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) do not represent significant risk factors for becoming infected by the coronavirus, studies show that once infected, the chances of developing serious, rather than mild, disease are increased.

Risk Factors and COVID-19 Infection

Several studies from countries such as China, Great Britain and the USA clearly show that severe COVID-19 disease is greatest in those individuals who are already suffering from an underlying condition (termed co-morbidity) and that this risk increases markedly if accompanied by any other illness. By far and away, the most common illnesses linked to the development of serious disease in COVID-19 patients across these three countries have been diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. In some studies, however, severe COVID-19 disease has been shown to be associated with asthma or COPD (in addition to a number of other diseases) but the percentage of such patients were much less.

Chronic Respiratory Disease and protection against COVID-19

On the basis of the above, it is important that anybody with chronic respiratory disease, particularly, but not confined to, those over 65 must ensure that they take appropriate precautions to mitigate against being infected with COVID-19, with ‘prevention’ being the operative word. So, self-isolation and/or social distancing is paramount. In addition to this, however, it is highly advisable that, if you suffer from any major respiratory condition whatsoever, you consult your primary health care provider for specific advice. In addition to this preferred course of action, you might also wish to peruse specific web sites established by many respiratory organisations such as Asthma WA or the Australian Lung Foundation. These sites provide answers to many FAQ’s, as well as offering generic advice to patients with asthma or COPD in the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Useful Links

Asthma WA – COVID-19 Fact Sheet I Have Asthma

Lung Foundation – Coronavirus What You Need To Know