Senior woman breathing deeply

The novel coronavirus (also called novel SARS-CoV-2 virus) causes COVID-19 disease. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and trouble breathing. That spells trouble for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Fortunately, people with COPD are not at higher risk of getting the coronavirus.

If people with this underlying condition do get COVID-19, they are at high risk for complications and poorer outcomes.

Coronavirus and Breathing

Lungs are a primary target for the coronavirus. The virus invades lung tissues after it is inhaled. This causes inflammation and breathing problems.

If the infection worsens, pneumonia can develop. Pneumonia is a type of lung inflammation that fills the organs' air sacs with fluid and can be potentially life-threatening.

Most coronavirus cases are mild and can be treated at home. However, in rare severe cases of coronavirus, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) can develop. This requires patients to be placed on a ventilator for oxygen. If the body does not have enough oxygen, it could lead to respiratory failure, which in turn can lead to organ failure and death.

There could be some residual lung damage from severe cases of the novel coronavirus, but recovery rates and outcomes vary from person to person.

Staying Healthy with COPD

To help prevent coronavirus from attacking your system, try these tips:

In addition to protecting yourself from the virus, it is important to take your medications as prescribed to maintain optimal health. Poorly managed COPD can lead to serious consequences if you were to catch coronavirus.

Most providers are not taking maintenance appointments at this time. However, if you have a change in symptoms or any concerns about your condition, don't hesitate to contact your healthcare provider right away. Many providers offer telemedicine so you can maintain social distance while addressing your health care needs.

If you need an appointment, check with your provider's office about your options. If your provider is at UMMS, you may use MyPortfolio to contact them.

Coronavirus and Smoking

Cigarette smoking and vaping can cause inflammation in the lungs, as well as reduced lung and immune function. Long-term smokers and e-cigarette users are at a high risk for developing chronic lung conditions and serious infections.

These are trouble for anyone who gets coronavirus, as it increases their risk of developing severe illness and possibly death. Please consider quitting smoking as soon as possible.