Chronic Lung Disease & COVID-19

Last updated: March 27

Based on what we know so far about COVID-19, people with chronic lung disease and other health concerns have been more likely to have severe complications after contracting the virus than the general population. Your physician can review your medical record to give you a greater understanding of your personal risk.

Here are answers to some common questions related to chronic lung disease and COVID-19. Please note that these answers are subject to change as we receive more information about COVID-19. If you have additional questions not answered here, call your physician or the Northwestern Medicine COVID-19 hotline at 312.47.COVID (312.472.6843).

Frequently Asked Questions

People who have chronic lung disease, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and interstitial lung diseases, do not appear to be more likely to contract COVID-19. However, they are more likely to have severe complications. Experts believe that the more underlying health conditions a person has, the higher their chance of having serious complications from COVID-19.

Take your medication exactly as prescribed by your physician. Keep at least a 30-day supply of your medications, including inhalers, and contact your physician if you need refills. To refill your prescription, you can limit exposure to the virus by using a mail-order service or drive-thru pharmacy, or have a caregiver pick up your medication.

Physicians recommend that people with chronic lung disease adhere to the recommendations released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prioritizing extreme physical distancing and hand hygiene. You should also exercise, eat well, reduce stress and get plenty of sleep. You should stay home as much as possible, and ask friends and family not to visit you if they are sick. If you have grandchildren, it is best to talk to them on the phone or via video conference rather than see them in person.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks daily to protect yourself against COVID-19. You can use regular household cleaning products to do this. Avoid disinfectants that can cause difficulty breathing.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms such as a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, call your physician for guidance.

If you have been exposed to someone who received a COVID-19 diagnosis, you should self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms of the virus. If you begin to experience symptoms, call your physician.