Skip to main content

Covid-19 and Chronic Health Conditions

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What do I need to know about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and chronic health conditions?

Your chronic condition may increase your risk for COVID-19 or serious problems it can cause. You can take steps to manage your condition. The steps will also lower your risk for COVID-19 or the serious problems it causes. If you do develop COVID-19, healthcare providers will tell you when it is okay to be around others after you recover. This depends on your chronic condition, any symptoms of COVID-19 that developed, and how severe the symptoms were.

What do I need to know about serious problems from the virus?

You may develop long-term health problems caused by the virus. Your risk is higher if you are 65 or older. A weak immune system, obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or a heart or lung condition can also increase your risk. Your risk is also higher if you currently use cigarettes or used them in the past. Your healthcare provider may give you medicine to prevent serious problems from the virus. COVID-19 can lead to any of the following:

How does the virus spread?

The virus can be spread starting 2 to 3 days before symptoms begin. Close personal contact with an infected person increases your risk for infection. This means being within 6 feet (2 meters) of the person for at least 15 minutes over 24 hours.

What do I need to know about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19?

Signs and symptoms usually start about 5 days after infection but can take 2 to 14 days. Signs and symptoms range from mild to severe. You may feel like you have the flu or a bad cold. Your chronic health condition may cause some of the same symptoms COVID-19 causes. This can make it hard to know if a symptom is from COVID-19 or your chronic condition. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any new or worsening symptoms. This is especially important if you have a condition that often causes shortness of breath. Your provider can tell you if you should be tested for COVID-19. Tell your provider if you think you were infected but develop signs or symptoms not listed below:

What can I do to manage my chronic health condition?

If you do not have a regular healthcare provider, experts recommend you contact a local community health center or health department. The following can help you manage your condition and prevent COVID-19 during an active outbreak in your area:

What do I need to know about COVID-19 vaccines?

Your healthcare provider can give you more information about what to expect, depending on your chronic condition.

What can I do to lower my risk for COVID-19?

Prevent COVID-19 Infection

What can I do to help strengthen my immune system?

Where can I find more information?

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my doctor or specialist?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright Merative 2024 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.