Personal Risk Assessment for COVID-19
What is an immune system? Accornding to Wikipedia the immune system is a host defense system comprising many biological structures and processes within an organism that protects against disease. To function properly,
an immune system must detect a wide variety of agents, known as pathogens, from viruses to parasitic worms, and distinguish them from the organism's own healthy tissue. Diseases of the immune system can result in autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases and cancer. Immunodeficiency occurs when the immune system is less active than normal, resulting in recurring and life-threatening infections.
In a human being, immunodeficiency can either be the result of a genetic disease such as severe combined immuodeficiency, acquired conditions such as HIV/AIDS, or the use of immunosuppressive medication In contrast, autoimmunity results from a hyperactive immune system attacking normal tissues as if they were foreign organisms. Common autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto's thyroiditis, rheumatiod arthritis, diabetes mellitus type 1, and systematic lupus erythematosus.
In light of COVID-19 many people are asking if they are at risk and how do they know if they are more at risk than every day Joe Bloggs for contracting it. We will try to give you some guidelines to assess if you are at risk and why.
There are many unknown variables to this disease and it may take years to gain the knowledge we will need to not only prevent but also cure this very serious disease. Studies are being carried out around the world on not only where it came from but how it is transmitted and what will stop it. Most of us already know to do things like wash our hands and not touch your face. These things are just sensible to do to try and keep you healthy in your every day life no matter what the situation.
High risk Individuals
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a few guidelines as to which groups are at a higher risk. Their guidelines say that these individuals are not only at risk for COVID-19 but other severe illnesses as well which is just logical.
Older Adults are of course on the list because of many factors. They may not be as active and their immune system is not as strong as it once was. Generally speaking a lot of older adults have some type of healt issue they are already trying to cope with such as high blood pressure, COPD, heart problems and the list can go on. An older adult is classed according to the World Health Organization as agreed by the United Nations as anyone 60+ years. Most developed world countries have accepted the chronical age of 65 as a definition of an older person, but like many westernized concepts, this does not adapt well to the situation in Africa. Some people are saying that 70 is the age someone is defined as older person so it can be anywhere from 65 to 70 you will have to decide that really for yourself or ask your doctor if you are within the qualification of older adult if you are unsure.
People with HIV are another group that meets the criteria of being vulnerable to COVID-19 and any other disease that is out in today's society. Their immune system is not able to defend them against this or generally speaking any other thing that they might come in contact with. Individuals with HIV are vulnerable to opportunistic infections which are ones that occur more frequently and are more severe in people with weakened immune systems, which of course is anyone with HIV.
Asthma, Cyctic Fibrosis and COPD patients are another classification for people that are higher risk for contracting COVID-19. COVID-19 attacks the respiration system so it would then stand to reason that someone who already has underlying concerns with their lungs would of course be at a higher risk to contract the disease and have complications.
Organ transplant patients are at risk because like HIV patients, are suseptible to opportunistic infections. It is common for a transplant patient to be more likely to catch things that a normal every day person might not have to be concerned with. Organ transplant patients have to take extra precautions to combat germs and stay away from infections. Prevention of illness is the key to a healthy life, and check-ups are vital to preventing illness.
Cancer patients of any sort of cancer are suseptible to contracting many things but especially something as serious as COVID-19 they should be very cautious. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America states the immune system is critical in fighting cancer. We have an immune system that is designed to recognise native and non-native cells that can harm us. The problem is, it doesn't always work. Other times, it works against us.
Pregnant women are also on the list the CDC has provided for people that are at a higher risk for severe illnesses. NHS says that women are at a higher risk of complications from flu during pregnancy because they have a weaker immune system. When you are pregnant, your body naturally weakens your immune system to ensure the pregnancy is successful. The alterations in the immune system result in increased susceptibility to certain, viral, bacterial and parasitic infections.
There are many unknowns as we have stated earlier in this article but there are things that we can do to try and keep healthy and safe from not only COVID-19 but really
so many other things. Flu is a classic example of something that many people contract every year and it is easily transmitted between people but also generally easy to stay away from.
If you have underlying health conditions of any type it is always better to be safe than sorry. Young and old alike are contracting this disease and it is best to err on the side of caution. Keep the social distance if you do have to go out in public and limit your time in public if at all possible.
Your immune system and logic are your best defences against not only COVID-19 but so many other health issues that are out there. Stay safe and healthy and think of those around you.