The pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has taken the world by storm and sickened hundreds of thousands of people.
While many people recover from COVID-19, certain individuals are more likely to develop complications from the disease and require intensive treatment. These individuals are the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
One underlying health condition, mesothelioma, is particularly troublesome in regard to COVID-19 because both diseases affect the respiratory system.
Below, we discuss how COVID-19 may impact mesothelioma patients.
Who’s More At Risk from COVID-19?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
These individuals may include those with the following conditions:
- Asthma (moderate to severe)
- Chronic lung disease
- Serious heart conditions
- Chronic kidney disease
- Severe obesity
- People aged 65 and older
- People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- Liver disease
Mesothelioma patients would fall under the “chronic lung disease” category. The CDC states that this group of people may experience flare-ups of existing chronic lung disease conditions caused by COVID-19. As such, the CDC recommends the following for these individuals:
- Keep taking your current medications, including those with steroids in them.
- Avoid triggers that may make your symptoms worse.
- Stay home if possible.
- Wash your hands often.
- Take precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
- Keep away from people who are sick.
- Stock up on supplies.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
- Avoid all cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
It’s also important for you to know the contact information for your local health department so you can stay informed on updates related to the pandemic in your area.
Mesothelioma and the Coronavirus
Mesothelioma and COVID-19 have similarities. Mesothelioma cancer affects the cells that comprise the lining of the lungs, heart, and abdomen. This cancer causes the cells lining these organs to divide at an abnormally fast rate, leading to a buildup of scar tissue, fluids, and tumors that compromise organ function and can lead to the death of the patient.
COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus, a virus shaped with crown-like spikes, which is where the name “corona” virus comes from. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases, including the disease COVID-19.
Since both of these diseases affect the respiratory system, a patient with both mesothelioma and COVID-19 may develop severe complications. Additionally, since mesothelioma and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, it can be difficult for individuals to know if their symptoms are due to their existing case of mesothelioma, or due to a new infection of COVID-19.
Both diseases cause the following symptoms:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
Therefore, if you have mesothelioma, it’s in your best interest to remain in close contact with your medical and radiation oncologists for treatment plans.
What to Do if You Think You Have COVID-19
If you have mesothelioma and you believe you have been infected with COVID-19, it’s important for you to exercise caution in order to protect your health. Do not run out and go to urgent care without any form of preparation; this could prove more dangerous to your health than staying home.
The CDC recommends the following steps if you believe you have been infected with COVID-19:
Stay home except to get medical care. Make sure to get plenty of rest and stay hydrated. If you decide to leave the house to get medical care, contact your doctor so they can prepare for your arrival accordingly.
Separate yourself from others. When staying home, try to separate yourself from others as much as possible. It’s also a good idea to use a separate bathroom if you have more than one. If you need to be around other people in your home, always wear a face covering.
Keep a close eye on your symptoms. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever and a cough. The disease may be more serious if you also experience difficulty breathing. Contact your doctor if this is the case for you.
Follow the instructions of your doctor and the local health department. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may decide that bed rest is enough to cure you of your infection. Make sure to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and stay inside per the direction of your local health department.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience more severe symptoms. Contact your doctor immediately if you begin experiencing persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, or bluish lips or face.
Mesothelioma Treatment Options
While mesothelioma and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, they remain two very different diseases. In the vast majority of cases, COVID-19 will resolve in days to weeks. Mesothelioma, on the other hand, rarely has a cure.
Much of this is due to mesothelioma’s long latency period. This means that mesothelioma does not present any symptoms until the disease has already reached a later stage, at which point treatment becomes less effective.
There are, however, several treatment options from which mesothelioma patients may benefit, including the following:
Surgery. Certain surgical procedures can provide some pain relief to mesothelioma patients. Thoracentesis, in particular, is a minimally invasive procedure in which a needle is inserted into the chest cavity to drain excess fluid and provide relief to the patient. Additionally, mesothelioma patients in the earlier stages of the disease may benefit from a pleurectomy that removes part of the lining of the lungs and any cancerous tumors within it.
Chemotherapy. Depending on the stage of the patient’s mesothelioma, chemotherapy may be given as the primary treatment or in conjunction with other treatments. Its purpose is to prevent the spread of rapidly dividing cancer cells.
Radiation. Radiation is another method often used in conjunction with other treatments to reduce or prevent the spread of rapidly dividing cancer cells. It may also be used as palliative therapy to relieve painful symptoms associated with mesothelioma.
Gene therapy. This is a newer treatment often used in conjunction with chemotherapy. In this instance, genes are introduced into the patient’s body that renders cancer genes’ defense mechanisms useless and makes them more susceptible to medications issued through chemotherapy.
Recovering Damages for Mesothelioma
There is no doubt that the aforementioned treatments are expensive and difficult to go through. Additionally, there is no guarantee that they will cure the patient’s mesothelioma or alleviate of their symptoms.
What’s unjust about mesothelioma is that most of the time, the disease is entirely preventable. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, a toxic substance that can be inhaled or swallowed and become embedded in the cells that line the lungs.
Oftentimes, those exposed to asbestos are working in professions where their employer did not take the proper safety precautions to protect their employees from this toxic substance, either by not examining work sites fully or by not providing proper safety equipment to workers.
If you have been exposed to asbestos and now have mesothelioma, our team can help you recover compensation for the following damages:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Don’t spend another second in silence. Contact Shrader & Associates L.L.P. today at (877) 958-7920 to schedule a consultation with our team.