Respiratory illnesses like coronavirus can be extremely dangerous for patients with mesothelioma. Health officials warn that those with weakened immune systems are at greater risk of infection. Further, coronavirus symptoms may resemble symptoms of mesothelioma, making things especially worrisome and confusing for people who were exposed to asbestos.
What Is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause a range of different illnesses ranging from the common cold to deadly respiratory diseases.
Although coronaviruses were first discovered in the 1960s, in December 2019, a new type of coronavirus was discovered in China. This quick-spreading virus causes an illness called COVID-19.
Common Coronavirus Symptoms
Coronavirus symptoms vary depending on the strain of the virus.
Mild coronavirus infections may cause symptoms such as:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
However, if a coronavirus infection becomes more severe — which is more likely to happen in people with weakened immune systems — it can cause severe and potentially fatal symptoms.
Severe or late-stage coronavirus symptoms may include:
- Kidney failure
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.”
Due to weakened immune systems, mesothelioma patients are likely to be at greater risk for serious complications. For this reason, patients and caregivers alike should pay close attention to possible symptoms of coronavirus.
How Is Coronavirus Spread?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that coronavirus is mostly spread from person-to-person contact.
This can occur when:
- Someone who is infected coughs or sneezes and respiratory droplets spread the virus
- Someone within about 6 feet of respiratory droplets breathes them in
- Someone comes into contact with surfaces containing the droplets and then touches their mouth or nose
The WHO cautions, “studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may survive on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days…If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others.”
What Do Mesothelioma Patients Need to Know?
Since COVID-19 is still so new, there is not a lot of information specific to cancer patients. However, mesothelioma patients should follow standard recommendations to reduce their risk of infections.
Mesothelioma patients in active treatment and those who are finished with treatment should be especially cautious as they are at higher risk of getting very sick from coronavirus.
How Can I Protect Myself?
You can protect yourself by cleaning household objects and surfaces that are touched frequently.
Objects and surfaces that should be disinfected often include:
- Remote controls
Some additional tips include:
- Avoid crowds
- Avoid non-essential travel
- Do not come into close contact with anyone who is sick
- Do not touch your face, especially your eyes and nose
- Make sure to wash your hands well (at least 20 seconds) and frequently
By following these tips, y0u can hopefully reduce your risk of infection and stay safe.
Where Do I Find a Coronavirus Update I Can Trust?
The coronavirus situation is ever-changing, which means there is a flood of information out there.
If you have mesothelioma, it’s important for you to get new information about the virus from trustworthy sources since you are at a higher risk of serious health problems.
Several trustworthy organizations include:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- World Health Organization
- Local and state health departments
These organizations can give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, both locally and around the world.
Can I Travel for My Mesothelioma Treatment?
The decision on traveling for mesothelioma treatment should be made with your doctors.
If you must travel by plane for treatment, it is important to consult both your local medical team and the medical providers you must travel to see.
What to Do If You Have Coronavirus Symptoms
If you or someone you love is experiencing common coronavirus symptoms, it is urgent to contact your doctor immediately.
Mesothelioma symptoms may resemble coronavirus symptoms, which can make the outbreak especially worrisome for people who were exposed to asbestos in the past.
If you experience coronavirus symptoms and were exposed to asbestos in the past, it is important to notify health care providers. This may lessen the chance of a misdiagnosis that could delay treatment.