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What's an Underlying Condition?

What's an Underlying Condition?

As COVID-19 continues to spread, you will probably see references to “underlying conditions” as a risk factor for more severe complications. But what does that mean?

Because COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, patients with chronic medical conditions are at a higher risk of developing a severe lower respiratory infection with low oxygen levels and pneumonia. This group of patients may require hospitalization. Chronic medical conditions – what many may call “underlying conditions” -- include diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer and kidney disease. Elderly patients are also at a higher risk of severe illness.

Of course, there is a smaller number of otherwise healthy individuals who can develop severe infection, too. It’s important to note that most patients who are infected will recuperate at home and not require additional medical attention.

Whether or not you have a chronic medical condition that makes you more vulnerable to the virus, it’s important for everyone to take precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Social distancing can slow the rate of spread of this illness and protect our community from a severe outbreak. This means trying to maintain a distance of 6 feet when in public and avoiding crowded situations.


Dr. Johnny Jones, Medical Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. Johnny Jones

Baton Rouge General