Coronavirus (COVID-19) & COPD

Kenneth Knowles, MD
Medically reviewed by Kenneth Knowles, MDMay 18th, 2020
Woman with respirator

As the new coronavirus (COVID-19) sweeps the globe, people everywhere are taking CDC-recommended precautions to protect themselves from contracting it. Those precautions include everything from wearing a mask while in public to social distancing. People with pre-existing conditions, such as

COPD, are doubly concerned for their wellbeing. Since the coronavirus (COVID-19) is still relatively new, however, it can be tough to get the information you need. So, what do you need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19) if you have COPD? DispatchHealth is here to help. Read on for our essential guide to navigating coronavirus (COVID-19) and COPD.

Are Those With COPD at Greater Risk of Contracting COVID-19?

Given that COPD is a respiratory condition and the coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory virus, it makes sense that those with COPD are at a greater risk of contraction, right? In reality, people with chronic lung disease aren’t any more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19) than those without COPD. Actually, most people with COPD who contract the coronavirus (COVID-19) will experience mild symptoms—if any at all—and make a full recovery, according to the European Lung Foundation. Many patients will also be able to recover at home. While this is good news for those with chronic lung disease, it doesn’t mean that the coronavirus (COVID-19) doesn’t pose dangers unique to those with COPD.

How Dangerous is COVID-19 for Those With COPD?

If you have COPD, you’re likely no stranger to one of its biggest symptoms: breathlessness. The breathlessness that can come on as a result of a COPD exacerbation can be scary enough without it being made worse by a virus—and that’s exactly what the coronavirus (COVID-19) can do. The coronavirus (COVID-19) can worsen COPD-related breathlessness, making hospitalization more likely.

Beyond worsening breathlessness, people with COPD have a higher risk of developing coronavirus-related (COVID-19) complications, since the coronavirus (COVID-19) affects the respiratory system. Lungs that are damaged from chronic respiratory illness have a harder time fighting off the virus, making them more susceptible to its symptoms. This can result in a worse coronavirus (COVID-19) infection that’s harder to overcome.

Besides breathlessness, keep an eye out for these common coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • A loss of taste or smell
  • Chills

If you notice symptoms of troubled breathing, new confusion, an inability to stay awake or wake up, a pain/pressure in your chest, or bluish lips or face, call 911; these are emergency symptoms that require prompt medical care.

What Extra Precautions can Those With COPD Take?

Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself or your loved one with COPD from contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19).

First of all, you should continue taking any COPD medications that you’re currently prescribed. Try to keep a 90-day supply on hand so you can minimize how often you need to visit the pharmacy. If you can’t acquire a 90-day supply, keep at least 30 days’ worth in stock at home. And don’t forget to check with your oxygen supplier to ensure uninterrupted delivery, if you receive it!

Beyond stocking up on medication, you can also:

  • Avoid leaving the house. Besides essential medical care, try to stay home as much as possible. Consider having groceries and medications delivered instead of running out to the supermarket or pharmacy. If you do need to venture into public areas, make sure to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other people.
  • Disinfect household surfaces often. This is especially important if you live with people who come and go frequently, which is more and more common as states start to reopen. Make sure the other residents of your household wash their hands as soon as they get home, and take care to frequently clean and disinfect countertops, door handles, bathroom surfaces, and other commonly touched areas.
  • Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often, for at least 20 seconds, making sure to get in between your knuckles and underneath your fingernails. Try not to touch your face, and be sure to cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue.
  • Quit smoking. We know it’s easier said than done, but there’s never been a better time to stop smoking. Quitting can strengthen your respiratory system, making your lungs better able to fight off the coronavirus (COVID-19) if you do contract it.

Tested Positive for COVID-19? Call DispatchHealth

COVID team at home

Have you tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19)? If so, DispatchHealth can help. We can treat coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in the comfort of their own homes, and we can even test for it if you’re at high risk of severe infection—which most COPD patients are. We’re taking care to prioritize our staff and patients’ safety—all of our staff wear surgical masks, gloves, and protective eyewear during each visit. Additionally, for COPD patient visits, our providers also wear N-95 masks, gowns, and shoe covers. We follow stringent guidelines for entering and exiting patients’ homes and thoroughly disinfect our cars and kits in between visits. If you have COPD and suspect you may have contracted the coronavirus (COVID-19)—or even if you’re experiencing a non-coronavirus-related

COPD exacerbation—we’re here for you. Contact us via our app, our website, or over the phone to receive care at your doorstep within a few hours.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

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The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

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