COPD and Coronavirus: What You Need to Know

People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) already worry a lot about breathing and lung health. Now, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus may have raised their concerns.

People with COPD are at higher risk of falling severely sick if SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infects them because their damaged airways may have more difficulty combating COVID-19. Severe COVID-19 poses the risk of:

  • shock, which is deadly as it affects the circulatory system and prevents blood from reaching organs
  • heart damage
  • acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), due to which fluids may fill your lungs and you can’t inhale adequate oxygen

Knowing the symptoms of COVID-19 can help you get the required help at the right time. The three main symptoms to look for are coughing, shortness of breath, and fever. COPD doesn’t typically cause fever. If you have a fever of 100.4℉ or more with other COVID-19 symptoms, contact your doctor.

Although a fever is a sign of COVID-19, it’s not a sure shot way to ascertain if it’s due to COVID-19 or COPD. As someone with COPD, it’s time to call your doctor if your COPD symptoms, such as coughing, breathing problems, or wheezing, worsen. Additionally, call your doctor if your oxygen blood levels are lower at rest, you experience new types of coughing, or there’s a change in the color or amount of phlegm.

Apart from the general maintenance of hand hygiene, and physical distancing, you must be more cautious if you have COPD. It’s also a good idea to stay in as far as you can, especially if there are many COVID-19 cases in your area. Some additional measures include:

  • ensuring you have a functioning thermometer and oximeter
  • keeping your COPD under control by sticking to your treatment plan
  • staying healthy, including eating right, exercising, and getting lots of sleep
  • having enough medication, food, and household supplies for at least 90 days

Moreover, if COVID-19 is widespread in your area, ask your doctor if you must make any modifications to the antibiotics or steroids prescribed.