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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 6 in 10 Americans live with a chronic illness, and 4 in 10 live with two or more of these illnesses. The good news is that common chronic illnesses like heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and diabetes are typically manageable with treatment plans. The coronavirus pandemic, however, has thrown uncertainty into these treatment plans, often leaving patients questioning how to move forward with treatment.
“People living with chronic conditions generally have weakened immune systems,” said Craig Bober, D.O., a board-certified Primary Care physician with Inspira Medical Group. “Because of this, it’s important for patients with chronic illnesses to continue with their treatment plans.”
Patients should stay in frequent contact with their physicians, by telehealth when possible, to help them manage their treatment plans. If you do need to visit an Inspira facility, rest assured we have implemented enhanced safety measures across our healthy system, including increased use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by all staff, screenings for all who enter our buildings, modified use of common areas to promote social distancing, plexiglass dividers in registration areas and increased sanitization.
“Many treatments for severe chronic conditions are incredibly important in helping to fight the illness, and missing a treatment can be very detrimental to the patient,” said Bober.
COVID-19 affects the respiratory tract—the nose, throat and lungs—which are also affected most severely by COPD. This amplifies the importance of those with COPD to stay as healthy as possible, as their lungs are already compromised.
“Like COPD, diabetes is also a disease that is critical to have under control during this pandemic,” said Bober. “Viral infections can cause overwhelming inflammation leaving a diabetic’s weakened immune response unable to effectively and efficiently clear the infection.”
If you’re concerned about treating your chronic illnesses during the pandemic, your physician can offer you guidance about how to best protect your health. While the pandemic certainly warrants a heightened level of caution, it’s still possible—and necessary—to continue managing any chronic conditions.
The best way to protect yourself from the coronavirus remains the same, regardless of whether or not you have a chronic illness. Staying home, social distancing (staying six feet apart from others), wearing a face mask in public settings and washing your hands frequently are all important steps in minimizing the likelihood of contracting the virus.