Chronic Diseases Chronicles: What to do if you are a chronic patient with Covid-19 risk around?

Here is the WHO guidance about people living with a chronic illness during these coronavirus pandemic times:

“People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus (COVID-19), with the risk of becoming severely ill increasing after the age of 60. People with pre-existing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) also appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.”

These NCDs or chronic diseases include:

  • Cardiovascular diseases (e.g. hypertension, persons who have had, or are at risk for, a heart attack or stroke)
  • Chronic respiratory disease (e.g. COPD, Asthma)
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Mental illnesses- it has been shown now that people having obesity (BMI – Body Mass Index > 30) are at greater risk for several reasons

Tips for people living with chronic illness:

  1. Care for your health – your health is your most precious asset that requires your full attention. Every action to care for yourself such as healthy eating, doing regular exercise, making sure you have enough sleep, will contribute to keeping you healthy.
  1. Make sure you have enough medication and any other medical supply needed for your care for a few weeks. You might confirm supply access with your local pharmacist or health center.
  1. Follow recommendations of social distancing (with confinement in many countries), keeping a distance of 1-2 meters with another person. Wash your hands with soap and warm water many times a day, stay away from people having cough/flu symptoms.
  1. Take your treatment regularly, not skipping any prescribed dose.
  1. Drink enough water – it will help medicines to get smoothly absorbed and circulate in the blood to reach their target action.
  1. Listen to yourself, as you know yourself best – be attentive to your body signals and make sure to react fast enough if you feel anything is unusual.
  1. Monitor your health – carry on the regular health checks you are used to performing, such as Blood Pressure monitoring (BP check with home device), blood sugar monitoring, peak flow measurement, use of pain scale for pain monitoring, etc.

If you feel unwell, don’t panic:

  1. Assess yourself – take your temperature, make a list of symptoms you are feeling, give yourself rest.
  2. Call your primary care provider for advice, don’t wait too long to call.
  3. Don’t rush to hospitals or clinics as they might be overwhelmed with cases and you might put yourself at risk of contracting an infection.
  4. Follow medical guidance you receive from known health professionals, the internet might not be the best information source.
  5. If you feel anxiety, voice it. This is as important as physical illness and must be tackled right away.

It is important to seek help early enough to allow health professionals to take the best care of you and your health.

Following these health tips and steps will make you your first care provider as you know yourself best, caring for yourself 24/7/365!