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Managing Chronic Conditions during COVID-19

Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Below are just some of the high-risk conditions that are important to manage to help prevent severe illness from COVID-19:

  • Asthma and lung disease

  • Diabetes

  • Heart disease

  • Various conditions that lead to a weakened immune system, including cancer treatment

  • Chronic kidney disease

Basic steps to protect yourself

The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and others is to get vaccinated and follow recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19. Here are some steps to stay healthy, prevent the spread of COVID-19, and prepare for potentially becoming sick.

  • Contact your health care provider if you have any concerns or questions.

  • Ask about telehealth. Talk to a health care provider about the option of setting up your medical visit on the phone or online. Keeping up with regular appointments could prevent a visit to the emergency room later.

    • For more information, see: Health Care During a Pandemic.

  • Do not skip a dose or change your medications or treatment without first talking to a health care professional. Talk to your healthcare provider, insurer, and pharmacist about creating an emergency supply of prescription medications.

  • Have two weeks of non-prescription medications and supplies on hand in case you need to stay home for a long time.

  • It is natural to feel stressed or anxious, but it's important to take care of both your body and mind. Find ways to stay physically active and reduce stress. See Find Your Happy Place (PDF).

  • Stop smoking. Smoking can make it more likely that you have a heart attack or stroke, and can cause lung damage. Visit Quit Partner for free phone or online coaching.

What to do if you have:


People with asthma should take extra care when any type of respiratory illness is spreading in their community.

Take all your asthma medications and follow your management plan as directed.

  • Continue taking all your daily asthma medications as prescribed, including rescue and controller medications (inhaler or pill form). If you have questions about your asthma medications, talk with your health care provider or pharmacist.

  • Check your asthma inhaler expiration date and see if it has a counter that indicates how many doses you have left. If needed, call your pharmacy to get a refill. Use your current inhaler until you get a new one.

  • Follow your Asthma Action Plan.

    • If your symptoms are in the yellow zone and aren't resolving, contact your health care provider immediately and begin taking your prescribed oral steroids.

    • If your symptoms progress into the red zone, call 911 if you are unable to take yourself to the ER. Bring all your medications with you.

  • Know how to use your asthma inhaler correctly. The medication needs to get deep into your lungs, so it is important to use good technique. Watch: National Jewish Health Instructional Video.

Don't hesitate to call your health care provider.

  • Managing your asthma is important right now, so if you have questions or concerns, contact your clinic and arrange for a phone or online visit with your doctor, pulmonologist, or asthma specialist.

Social distancing and stay-at-home orders means you are spending more time inside the home. Spending more time indoors may increase your exposure to known or new asthma triggers, which can cause asthma symptoms, and can bring on an asthma attack. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Use your exhaust fan (if it exhausts to the outside) or open a window when cooking.

  • Make your home a smoke-free zone. Tobacco smoke is a powerful trigger of asthma symptoms and attacks. Encourage your household member(s) to stop smoking and refer them to Quit Partner for free coaching.

  • Keep your windows (home and car) closed during pollen season and when mold counts are high. Check the National Allergy Bureau Pollen and Spore Levels to see current conditions near you.

  • Avoid using cleaning products and other disinfectants that can cause asthma symptoms or an asthma attack.

  • Learn more about asthma triggers in the home.

Find ways to stay active and reduce stress.

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