Be ‘Rigid’ with Social Distancing in Pandemic, Pulmonary Expert Insists

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by Mary Chapman |

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Covid-19 tips

People with pulmonary fibrosis (PF) and other chronic lung disorders should strictly limit social contact during the global spread of the respiratory illness COVID-19, a pulmonary expert said.

Rahat Hussain, MD, a pulmonologist and assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas (UT) Health Science Center at Houston, advises PF and other lung disease patients to take such precautions because they are at higher risk of severe complications if infected.

“Because the virus attacks the lungs, patients with chronic lung disease such as asthma, COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], and pulmonary fibrosis are more susceptible to the COVID-19 infection,” Hussain, who is also a pulmonary medicine specialist at UT Physicians, said in a press release.

“The best thing for patients with chronic lung conditions to do during this time is to practice social distancing very rigidly. They should stay six feet apart from others, wash hands frequently, and make sure they have a plan of action in place in case they become infected with the virus,” Hussain added.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness with symptoms such as cough, fever, fatigue, and difficulty breathing. Some of these symptoms, however, can mimic those of chronic lung diseases, which affect about 35 million U.S. residents, including the roughly 100,000 individuals who have idiopathic PF.

To help prevent the contraction or spread of COVID-19, Hussain recommends the following measures:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Immediately change your clothes after returning from a doctor visits or places such as the grocery store
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Shower often
  • When using public transportation, keep at least six feet (about two meters) away from others
  • Strictly obey official stay-at-home orders
  • Regularly disinfect commonly used items, such as phones, tablets, computer keyboards, TV remotes, and doorknobs
  • Have at least a two-month supply of medications on hand
  • Speak with a healthcare provider about what to do if coronavirus infection is suspected
  • Know where the closest COVID-19 testing site is
  • Develop a course of action and determine where to go if infected.

“The virus is still very new. We know the effects it has on the lungs, and so right now the best thing to do is heed the warnings, stay home, and if you think you have COVID-19, please get yourself checked at any of the locations that the city has set near you and contact your lung doctor immediately to follow their guidance on what to do next,” Hussain said.

More information about COVID-19 and its risks to people with PF can be found on our site.

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