As the COVID-19 quarantine continues, you might find yourself hearing some words you never have before.
One of these is “comorbidities”.
The media claims that people with comorbidities are at greater risk of COVID-19, and this seems to be true.
But what are comorbidities?
And why are people with comorbidities at greater risk when it comes to COVID-19?
Keep reading – we’ll talk more about it.
First Off, A Few Caviats
Annex Naturopathic is a naturopathic health and wellness clinic, so the ideas expressed on its blog are from a naturopathic perspective.
And from a naturopathic perspective, there is currently no known cure or treatment for COVID-19.
As well, everything you read on this article is true as of the time of writing, but because our understanding of the situation is changing so rapidly, this information may be out of date later.
We’re doing our best to keep up with the changes in the COVID-19 situation, but for when it comes to treatment and prevention solutions, your best bet is to follow the World Health Organization, or the Government of Canada, both of whom are maintaining regularly updated pages on the subject.
The purpose of this article is to help you better understand some of the language surrounding COVID-19.
That will, hopefully, allay at least a little bit of the anxiety you might be feeling about what’s going on.
So, with that out of the way, let’s get into the article.
What Is A Comorbidity?
In simple terms, a comorbidity is the presence of one or more health conditions occurring alongside another condition.
It doesn’t necessarily mean the conditions are related.
For example, someone might be diagnosed with both an autoimmune thyroid disorder and scoliosis.
This means these two conditions are comorbid with each other.
In other cases, comorbidities may be related, or they may come from similar causes.
As well, people with just hypertension alone often show signs of insulin resistance.
Another example is that those with mental health issues are more likely to have issues with substance abuse.
In the mental health world, a comorbidity might include multiple diagnoses, but it may also include a case where a single diagnosis can’t account for all symptoms.
Why Are Comorbidities Important?
There are a number of reasons why comorbidities are important.
Let’s take a look at some of them.
1. They Help Guide Research & Theory
If we understand that certain conditions are more commonly present alongside other conditions, it can help us understand their causes.
It could be that there’s a causal relationship – for example, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis causes hypothyroidism.
It could be that common factors put you at risk for both disorders – for example, smoking puts you at risk of several different health disorders, including lung cancer, stroke, COPD, heart disease, and more.
Or, it could be that they aren’t related.
Regardless of the case, gaining a better understanding of these relationships helps researchers come up with new and innovative treatment methods.
2. They Help Guide Treatment Plans
Being aware of comorbidities helps health care professionals know how to allocate treatment resources, and when to keep a closer watch for issues.
If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, for example, your doctor will likely be keeping an eye on your blood pressure, and if you’re struggling with substance abuse, they may suggest a mental health screening.
As well, it helps to know what to suggest as far as treatment plans go.
For example, St. John’s wort has been heavily studied as a treatment for depression.
But if you have heart disease, you may be on blood thinners at some point if you aren’t already.
And because St. John’s wort can interfere with blood thinners, it may be wise to look at something else as a depression treatment.
3. They Help With Preventative Medicine
Before, we talked about the fact that diabetes is commonly comorbid with hypertension.
So that being the case, if you receive a diagnosis of either, it’s a good idea to consider some diet and lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of developing the other.
This is where naturopathic medicine can be exceptionally effective.
Why Are Comorbidities A Problem With COVID-19?
A study published earlier this year in the European Respiratory Journal looked at 1590 different cases of COVID-19 from China.
Of those, 399 of them – about 25% – had some sort of comorbidity, the most common of which were hypertension and diabetes.
They concluded that patients with any comorbidity were at greater risk of poorer outcomes, and the more comorbidities found, the poorer the results.
The answer to this question isn’t entirely understood yet, as frustrating as that is.
However, research is ongoing into why that’s the case.
Book An Appointment With Annex Naturopathic
Have you been diagnosed with an illness?
Are you concerned about the other problems you may face as a result?
If so, book an appointment with Annex Naturopathic today.
We’ll help you understand your risk factors, and offer a treatment plan designed to minimize those risks.
Book your appointment at Annex Naturopathic today.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND