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Having Lung Disease Increases Your Risk of Severe Illness From COVID-19

Lung Disease & COVID-19

What is Lung Disease?

Lung disease includes various disorders such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, and cystic fibrosis. 

Increased Risk with COVID-19

Those with COPD, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis have an increased risk of more severe illness from COVID-19. Those with moderate to severe asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, and cystic fibrosis may have an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. 

Because COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, it has the potential to severely exacerbate symptoms in patients with pre-existing lung disease. Additionally, the more severe outcomes of COVID-19 are often related to lung complications such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).  

While some medications for lung disease may weaken the immune system, it is important to continue taking all prescribed medication as directed. Make sure to have at least a 30-day supply of medications on hand at all times. If you use a nebulizer, make sure to clean it regularly. If you become sick with COVID-19, you will either need to use the nebulizer away from shared spaces (to avoid infecting others through the exhaled mist) or switch to using an inhaler. 

Reducing Risk

  • If you smoke or vape, consider quitting as this increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19. 
  • Avoid triggers that make your symptoms worse (e.g. smoke, pollen, dust, cold air, stress, chemical cleaners, dietary triggers).
  • Avoid disinfectants that you know may trigger your symptoms. Consider asking someone else in your household to clean/disinfect, and open windows to air out the space after using such products. 

While many symptoms of COVID-19 may be similar to a flare-up of your condition, pay special attention to body temperature. A fever is a common symptom of COVID-19, that would rarely be seen in a flare-up. Contact your health care provider if you have questions or experience any unusual symptoms. 

Main Point

Those with underlying chronic health conditions such as lung disease are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Follow public health guidelines carefully, and ensure other individuals in your household (or pandemic bubble) do so as well. Do not hesitate to seek appropriate medical attention, as needed.


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