SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection is most dangerous for the elderly and patients with chronic diseases that weaken the immune system. Who needs to be particularly careful? Tells DW.
The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus epidemic continues to spread around the world - the total death toll from COVID-19 pneumonia has exceeded 48. Whole countries are quarantined, epidemiologists and virologists do not stop calling for self-isolation of those at risk: people over 000 years and patients with chronic diseases and weakened immunity. Who needs to be extra careful and what diseases cause the immune system to malfunction?
Asthma and chronic lung diseases
Bronchial asthma is a chronic disease characterized by repeated attacks of breathlessness and wheezing. The frequency of attacks can vary from several times a day to several times a week. The WHO estimates that 235 million people worldwide suffer from asthma. It is also the most common chronic illness in children.
During an asthma attack, the mucous membrane of the bronchi swells, the airways spasm and narrow, which is why less air enters the lungs. It is very difficult for asthmatics to inhale, especially exhale. Attacks are accompanied by coughing, wheezing, increased shortness of breath. The body tries its best to counteract them, and this struggle significantly weakens it.
Asthma attacks can trigger allergens and respiratory infections. In this case, the immune system has to fight not only with asthma, but also with other diseases. Sometimes she is unable to cope with her task, and in the most adverse cases, this can lead to irreversible consequences.
Another disease of the respiratory system is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is believed that tobacco smoke is one of the main causes of COPD, and both active and passive smokers are at risk. The immune systems of people with COPD, which have to fight other diseases as well, are under double stress. The lungs of COPD patients are severely damaged, and viruses have much fewer barriers to entry.
Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin, or when the body cannot use the insulin it makes efficiently. This leads to a chronic high blood sugar - hyperglycemia.
Two types of diabetes are known. The first type, which is also called insulin-dependent, is characterized by a lack of insulin production. It affects mainly children. Type 90 diabetes affects about XNUMX percent of those who have the disease. It develops as a result of the fact that the body is unable to effectively use the produced insulin.
Elevated blood sugar weakens the body's resistance. Infectious diseases, especially those with fever, can dramatically worsen the condition of diabetics - even those whose illness is well controlled with medication.
But with diabetes, not only carbohydrate metabolism is disturbed. The disease can affect the blood vessels and affect the condition of the internal organs, exposing them to additional loads. And then the immune system becomes much more difficult to protect the body from alien and harmful interference.
More people die from cardiovascular disease (CVD) each year than from any other disease. According to the WHO, in 2016 they caused the death of almost 18 million people, this is a third of all deaths in the world. In 85 percent, death came from a heart attack (heart attack) or stroke. CVD includes coronary heart disease, in which blood vessels are not able to supply blood to the heart muscle, and vascular disease that supplies blood to the brain.
Any infectious disease for people with similar problems can be fatal. The same applies to those who suffer from disorders of the heart valves: viral infections can destabilize the work of the whole organism.
Essential hypertension or hypertension, characterized by high blood pressure, is a widespread disease. The number of hypertensive patients in the world is 1,13 billion people.
Hypertension is considered one of the main causes of death on our planet. It also increases the risk of developing diseases of the cardiovascular system, brain and other diseases.
High blood pressure leads to damage to arterial vessels and affects the functioning of the heart, which is forced to be in an overload condition. This can lead to the development of severe cardiovascular diseases and, as a result, weaken the body's resistance to viruses and other infections.
Patients with cancer are also at risk. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world. According to WHO, 2018 million people died from them in 9,6.
One of the most common cancer treatments is chemotherapy. In this case, cytostatics are used - anticancer drugs that disrupt the growth, development and division of malignant cells. But cytostatics attack not only cancer cells - healthy tissues also suffer from them, which damages the immune system, and the body becomes more susceptible to pathogenic microorganisms.
The degree of detrimental effect on immunity in the treatment of cancer depends on various factors, including the type of cancer and the general condition of the patient. In any case, people undergoing chemotherapy or radiation sessions should be extremely careful. Even a relatively harmless cold can become extremely dangerous for them, therefore, during an exacerbation of respiratory diseases, cancer patients should, if possible, avoid contact with those who cough and sneeze.
Autoimmune diseases increase the risk of contracting not only coronavirus, but other infections as well. They arise when the immune system fails for an unknown reason, and it begins to attack not foreign viruses and pathogens, but tissues and internal organs of its own body. There are many autoimmune diseases - some of which are rare and more common, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, or Crohn's disease (chronic inflammation of the intestines).
For patients with autoimmune diseases, doctors prescribe immunosuppressants that suppress the immune system. People with HIV also take immunosuppressants. The defense mechanisms of a weakened immune system fail, and the body becomes an easy victim of infections. Therefore, those who are forced to take immunosuppressive drugs need to be extremely careful.
And finally, do not forget that some pathogens of infectious diseases are also dangerous for people without any chronic diseases. Therefore, everyone, without exception, should be careful and not neglect the rules of hygiene.
A large selection of materials about coronavirus - news, safety tips, quarantine recommendations and other useful information - we have collected in special section on ForumDaily Woman.