Community//

How Does COVID-19 Affect People With These 7 Autoimmune Diseases?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of things we don’t know about COVID-19 and this creates fear about our own risk factors or the ones we love. About 23.5 million Americans live with an autoimmune disease, which gives a cause to concern. Immunosuppression may increase the risk of developing COVID-19 or having a more severe case. […]

Unfortunately, there are a lot of things we don’t know about COVID-19 and this creates fear about our own risk factors or the ones we love. About 23.5 million Americans live with an autoimmune disease, which gives a cause to concern. Immunosuppression may increase the risk of developing COVID-19 or having a more severe case.

First, it’s important to understand that certain autoimmune conditions are not caused, nor do they cause, immunosuppression or low immunity. Secondly, not all autoimmune conditions increase the risk of contracting COVID-19 infection or influence its severity. 

However, according to specialists, most people with autoimmune diseases should consider themselves as a high-risk population and be extra careful. So, how does the new virus affect people with the most common autoimmune diseases?

1. Type 1 Diabetes 

Type 1 diabetes, especially if uncontrolled, significantly increases vulnerability to infections and complications caused by them. Therefore, it’s crucial to make sure you have a supply of insulin at home.

2. Celiac Disease

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, people with celiac disease usually don’t have low immunity but might be more prone to COVID-19 if this condition is left untreated. But if celiac disease is treated and managed, this significantly decreases the risk of complications.

3. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are treated with immunosuppressive medications. This type of drug (especially steroids and immune modulators including azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine, and methotrexate) increases vulnerability to viral infection. 

If you suffer from IBD and your gastroenterologist prescribed you any suppressive medication it’s wise to be extremely careful. According to Crohn’s/Colitis Foundation, it’s important to stay on your medications since inflammation caused by IBD can provoke numerous complications and damage the intestinal tract. 

4. Hashimoto’s

Autoimmune thyroid diseases don’t seem to increase the risk of complications. But the virus that caused an epidemic in 2002 called SARS may have been linked to thyroid damage. Actually, any acute disease can negatively impact thyroid function. Therefore, if you are infected with COVID-19 infection and suffer from autoimmune thyroid disease, monitor any thyroid symptoms that may arise.

5. Rheumatoid Arthritis

According to the Arthritis Foundation, rheumatoid arthritis has not been flagged as a high-risk condition increasing the risk of COVID-19 infection. Certain medications taken to treat or suppress this condition may increase your risk.

6. Lupus 

People suffering from lupus are at a higher risk for a lot of infections, including colds, flu, coronavirus, and other viruses. If you have lupus, talk to your medical care provider in order to protect yourself from virus exposure. 

7. Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple sclerosis may increase your risk of vulnerability and severity of illness from a COVID-19 infection. Talk to your primary care physician to discuss any concerns you might have. People with multiple sclerosis should continue disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) and talk to their doctor about their specific risks.

Immunosuppressive medications and COVID-19

Of course, taking immunosuppressive medications can increase the risk of being infected, but at the same time, they’re essential for keeping your overall health and managing inflammation. That is why it’s essential to continue taking prescribed medications. However, you should talk to your primary care physician first. 

This is a very scary time for everyone especially if you have an autoimmune disease and are concerned about the state of your health. That’s normal but it’s important to stay calm and not to panic. Don’t forget about things that can positively affect your immune system such as proper diet, high-quality sleep, and stress reduction. You can try breathwork or practice meditation — these are the best things that can help you stay calm and healthy in these strange and horrible times.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

well being
Community//

How to Protect Your Well-Being From COVID-19 If You Have an Autoimmune Condition

by Dr. Chad Larson
maxbelchenko / Shutterstock
Thriving in the New Normal//

This Is What It Looks Like to Be #HighRiskCOVID19

by Julia Ries
Well-Being//

Looking at The Link Between Diabetes, Autoimmunity and Heart Disease

by Dr. Chad Larson

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.