With all of the latest reports relating to coronavirus it can be extremely worrying for people that have previously been diagnosed with an asbtestos related condition or any lung complaint at all.
If you have received a diagnosis relating to your lungs then it is possible to have a weakened immune system. Coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people and people with long-term conditions, including lung conditions.
You can always keep up to date with the latest information and advice from the NHS however we should all think about friends, family, carers and anyone else who supports you or helps to provide care. Make sure they know what to do about coronavirus and share this information with them.
The following information has been provided by the British Lung Foundation for everyone that has a pre-existing lung complaint.
If you live with a long-term lung condition, you’ll know it’s a good idea to avoid getting any sort of virus by taking sensible steps to reduce your risk of picking up infections.
You should also make plans to help you cope when the virus spreads.
Reduce the risk of getting coronavirus.
It’s important to keep your hands clean to stop the virus spreading. The virus can pass from hand to hand, and we touch our faces a lot. There are sensible hygiene measures you can follow to cut the risk.
• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Always wash your hands when you get home or get into work.
• If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser gel.
• Avoid touching your face as this can transfer the virus from your hands to your mouth.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and encourage other people around you to do the same.
• Cough into your elbow or the crook of your arm to reduce the spread of germs and throw away used tissues as soon as you can.
• Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser if you cough or sneeze on them.
• Avoid touching things in public spaces as much as possible.
• Think carefully about shaking hands with other people.
Think about avoiding crowds and busy places.
• Avoid people who are unwell. This includes children. You may want to help with childcare, but if you have a lung condition looking after grandchildren when they are ill may expose you to serious risk.
• Order your shopping online so it’s delivered to your home.
• Order your prescriptions online and arrange for someone else to collect it or ask if you can have it delivered.
• Work from home if this is possible in your job. Ask your employer about this now. They should be making plans for this anyway as part of general preparations in case the virus spreads more widely.
• Avoid the rush hour on public transport. If you have to travel to work try starting and finishing later (or earlier) so you are not travelling during the rush hour.
If you smoke, it’s vital to quit. People who smoke are five times more likely to get flu and twice as likely to get pneumonia.
Quitting smoking is one of the best ways to protect yourself from viral infections, including coronavirus.
What if my symptoms flare up?
It’s important that you know the signs of an exacerbation or flare-up in your condition and have a plan in place about what to do. Take a look at our information on COPD and bronchiectasis flare-ups and the Asthma UK action plan.
If you become unwell and there is a risk you might have COVID-19, call 111 for advice or use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. Make sure you tell them about your lung condition and the symptoms you are having.
If you are unwell and you haven’t been to the high-risk areas or been in contact with someone who has coronavirus, follow your usual steps to manage an exacerbation or flare-up, including getting medical help if you need to.
Signs of COVID-19 include fever, cough and breathlessness. You might also have muscle aches and pains as well as a headache.
It may be tricky to work out whether new symptoms are due to COVID-19 or due to an exacerbation or flare-up of your condition. Typically, exacerbations of COPD and asthma are not associated with a high fever.
It is important to follow advice from NHS111 or your health care professional. But if there is any doubt, self-isolate if you have symptoms and also follow your flare-up plan and self-manage as you usually do if your symptoms flare-up.
Should I use a facemask?
We do not recommend using a facemask to protect yourself as there isn’t enough evidence to show how effective they are. Also, for people living with a lung condition wearing a facemask can make breathing more difficult.
Help if you’re feeling worried.
Some people with lung conditions are telling us that they feel very worried and anxious about coronavirus.
It’s normal to have these sorts of feelings at a time like this if you live with a lung condition. Here’s some tips to help you cope:
• Only look at reliable sources of information about coronavirus that are updated regularly, such as the NHS, to help you feel more in control
• Keep in touch with your friends and family – in stressful times we cope better with support from those close to us
• Involve your family, including your children, in plans to keep well
The Mental Health Foundation has suggested these and other ways to look after your mental wellbeing during the outbreak.
More information can be found here: https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/coronavirus/people-living-with-lung-condition
If you have received an asbestos related diagnoses, or have a lung condition caused by exposure to asbtestos or other chemicals in the workplace, then please contact the specialist solicitors at Wolferstans on 01752 292362 for a free consultation and initial advice.
Associate, Solicitor, Head of the Asbestos Team