• drnataliesenst_ND

Who's "at risk"? Age and health status affect immune health

Updated: May 1, 2020

The current pandemic of a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that is highly contagious - and mostly not so serious for a large portion of the population - has life-threatening risks to certain populations (and overburdens the healthcare system we all rely on). We can all help each other by keeping up our own health and limiting social interactions to essentials (reduce grocery trips, have virtual visits with friends and get fresh air from your own yard/balcony).

See COVID-19 prevention recommendations from Public Health Canada.


Who's at risk? According to the Canadian government, re COVID-19 virus:

There is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for Canadians:

  • aged 65 and over

  • with compromised immune systems

  • with underlying medical conditions


A high level of inflammation in your body means your immune system is already burdened and at reduced capacity to defend against new insults (ie. infections). Many chronic health conditions cause inflammation in the body.


Conditions associated with high systemic inflammation include:


  • chronic lung conditions - including asthma, emphysema/bronchitis (COPD), or chronic cough or shortness of breath

  • chronic heart conditions - hypertension (high blood pressure), atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, a prior heart attack or diagnosed congestive heart failure

  • diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2 diabetics) - a risk factor for atherosclerosis/cardiovascular disease

  • kidney disease or poor kidney function


Why does being over 65 years young put you at risk when facing viral infections?

Generally, many people in this population already have one of the conditions listed above (possibly undiagnosed), or are battling another illness - all of which reduces their immune health prior to facing the virus.


Primary symptoms [get updates here]:

This virus typically affects the lungs and can progress quickly in some people. Symptoms vary, but most reported to date have been cough, shortness of breath and fever. People with reduced immune function & poor lung function are likely at increased risk of their initial upper respiratory tract infection progressing into pneumonia, or respiratory failure.


What you can do:

  • Eat well, sleep enough and reduce stress (let go of what you can't control - and avoid crowded places!).

  • Practice good hygiene (thorough hand-washing and stay home if sick).

  • For more support specific to your own risk/health issues, book an appointment. During this pandemic, I'm available to all Ontario residents by virtual appointment!


Learn more from the Canadian Government about the COVID-19 situation, your health and financial support:

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html

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