How Other Health Conditions Interact with COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

By Lily H-A

From PHN Issue 44, Fall 2020

Researchers have found that there are certain factors, including having other health conditions, that make it more likely you will have a severe illness if you catch COVID-19.

Here are some of the factors that seem to go along with more complications from COVID-19. Of course, having these health conditions doesn’t guarantee you’ll definitely get severely ill if you catch COVID-19. And people who are otherwise healthy can still get very ill if they catch COVID-19. The best way to prevent getting severe complications from COVID-19 is to not get it at all, so it’s important to keep practicing social distancing when possible, wearing a face covering, and practicing hand hygiene.

Some of these you can do more about than others. For the ones you can do something about, we’ve included some tips. Eating healthy, being physically active, and quitting smoking can improve or lower your risk of a lot of these health conditions. If you take medications, take them regularly and make sure you have enough refills.

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COPD: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

By Seth Lamming

From PHN Issue 44, Fall 2020

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common group of diseases that affect the lungs and airways. COPD is treatable and preventable, but it is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. COPD is caused by smoking or inhaling fumes or dust over a long period of time. Sometimes genetics and environment can cause COPD, as well as untreated asthma.

The lungs are a pair of air-filled organs in the chest that allow your body to take in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Air goes down the trachea (windpipe) and splits off into two bronchi (smaller windpipes) that supply each lung. The two windpipes supplying each lung branch off and get smaller and smaller, like tree roots. At the end of each airway are tiny alveoli (air sacs). Blood vessels surround the air sacs and take oxygen from them to the body.

Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are the two major categories of COPD. Many people have a combination of both, but one type usually dominates. Chronic bronchitis is when the airways become inflamed and get narrow. The airways also release a lot of thick mucus that the body cannot clear. In emphysema, the air sacs get damaged and can no longer exchange oxygen with blood vessels in the lungs. Air gets trapped in the lungs, which causes airspaces in the lungs to get permanently enlarged. The word “obstructive” in COPD refers to air getting trapped in the lungs. Physical changes to the airway make it difficult for people with COPD to fully exhale each breath.

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Managing Diabetes in Prison

By Timothy Hinkhouse

From PHN Issue 41, Winter 2020

I conducted an interview with my neighbor, J. Parker, who is a man I have known for several years. He is a 51-year-old man who has been diagnosed with diabetes for the past 13 years of his life. He has had lots of things on his plate that he has had to face in his lifetime in addition to diabetes. He has been incarcerated for the past 25 years, and he has an out date of 2023. This makes him worried about how he will take care of his diabetes, eat healthy, and still keep his positive outlook on life. In prison, everything has been taken care of for you. Out in the free world, we have to take care of ourselves, which can be scary for someone getting out after spending over half their life in prison.

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