What is the Coronavirus disease, symptoms, and how is it spread?  

Coronavirus disease, also known as COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Links to help you understand COVID-19:

 

How can you protect yourself and others from COVID-19?

At the moment confirmed cases and deaths of COVID-19 are increasing day-by-day. Everyone plays a part in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Here are ways you can help stop the spread:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Practice social-distancing (keeping 6 ft away)
  • Stay at home (and stay at home if you are sick. If you are sick, cover your cough and sneeze)
  • No social gatherings of more than 10 people
  • Follow the guidelines based on your state health department

 

COVID-19 and those that are most at risk

Studies based on patients in China and Italy show that older adults that have severe chronic medical conditions such as lung and heart disease and diabetes are at higher risk for COVID-19.  According to the CDC, other at-risk factors include:

  • People who have serious heart conditions
  • People who are immunocompromised
    • Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
  • People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
  • People who smoke
  • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • People with liver disease

 

Pancreatitis and COVID-19

At this time, there have been no studies regarding pancreatitis and COVID-19. Depending on the pancreatitis patient, the levels of a compromised immune system can vary. Patients that have chronic pancreatitis with complications of diabetes are at a higher risk as diabetes is a risk factor in COVID-19, but there has been no research shown for those that have pancreatitis being at-risk. Pancreatitis patients that have Cystic Fibrosis, please follow the guidelines from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Overall, The National Pancreas Foundation recommends that patients follow the CDC Guidelines mentioned above on how to protect yourself and others.

 

Mental Health and COVID-19

For those that have pancreatitis and other chronic illnesses, patients know that this disease can take a toll on you mentally and physically, coupled with reading daily headlines on COVID-19 – it can increase stress levels. Suggested activities to help with stress and maintain mental health during this time include:

  • Check up regularly on loved ones, as this unprecedented time can leave people feeling very isolated. Seeing familiar faces through Facetime can greatly improve your mood and research has shown that social support helps maintain physical and psychological health
  • Remember to get enough sleep as sleep deprived bodies have a harder time fighting infectious diseases
  • Go for a walk (while practicing social-distancing). Studies have shown that being outside and exercising can improve mental health. As gyms are closed, search for online home work-outs that you can do while you’re at home
  • Practice yoga and meditation
  • Find pancreas friendly recipes in the NPF’s “Chronic Pancreatitis” cookbook and test out new recipes
  • Consider volunteering (when appropriate) for the NPF or form an NPF State Chapter
  • Work on a new hobby such as learning a language, art project, or take a free online class
  • Take a break from social media and reading the daily news
  • Stress and coping (CDC)

 

Finding support during this time

The NPF is dedicated to providing continuous service to our patients. NPF staff are working remotely and will continue to support our patients/caregivers during this difficult time. While live chapter support groups are canceled until further notice, the NPF has an online Inspire support group: inspire.com/pancreatitis. Here you can ask questions specifically for pancreatitis. Or if you have Facebook, join one of our many NPF Chapter Facebook Groups.

Patients/caregivers can contact us at: info@pancreasfoundation.org