While COVID-19 is primarily spread through the inhalation of contaminated respiratory droplets, new research suggests that a surprising daily habit could be putting people at risk of contracting the virus, as well. According to the research, eating may be a particularly perilous activity for individuals with this common condition. Read on to discover if you could be at risk, and for insight on where COVID is spreading, These 2 States Are the Biggest Hotspots for the New COVID Strain.
According to January 2021 research. Gastroenterology, people with Barrett’s esophagus—a condition caused by acid reflux damage that causes the esophagus to thicken may be more susceptible to developing COVID than the general population. Among a group of 30 patients with Barrett’s esophagus, all study subjects had COVID receptors in their esophageal tissue samples, something those without the condition lack. The study’s authors posit that, due to the physiological changes brought about by Barrett’s esophagus, cells within the esophagus begin to take on the properties of the digestive tract cells to which COVID binds. When this occurs, the cells within the esophagus become more susceptible to COVID infection.
Additionally, proton pump inhibitors, which are commonly prescribed to treat Barrett’s esophagus, neutralize the stomach acid that might otherwise kill the virus within a person’s digestive tract, meaning that food contaminated with COVID particles could potentially infect individuals with Barrett’s esophagus with the virus. This also may mean that individuals with Barrett’s esophagus who come into contact with COVID-infected respiratory droplets may be more likely to develop the infection by breathing in the contaminated particles.
“You can imagine that if someone already has low levels of the virus in their respiratory tract, that individual could swallow some respiratory secretions, and the virus could infect cells in the esophagus to make them sicker that way,” explained Ramon U. Jin, MD, PhD, co-first author on the study, clinical fellow in the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis Division of Medical Oncology, and Barrett’s esophagus researcher.
Just because you have Barrett’s esophagus doesn’t mean a future COVID infection is a foregone conclusion, though; the study’s authors say that more research needs to be done to determine if swallowing presents a major risk to a large segment of the population. In the meantime, following public health protocols, like wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing can all reduce the risk of developing the virus. However, research does indicate that certain conditions could make you more susceptible to developing severe COVD; read on to discover if you could be at risk. And if you’re eager to stay safe, This Is Where You Should Really Take Your Temperature to Detect COVID.
In December 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that Down syndrome increased an individual’s risk of developing severe COVID. To help attenuate a person’s risk, the CDC recommends that individuals with Down syndrome develop a treatment plan with their medical provider, keep a 30-day supply of medication handy, and get medical care immediately if they develop symptoms. And before you brush off that headache, If Your Head Hurts While Doing This, You Could Have COVID.
If you have diabetes, you may be more susceptible to COVID-related mortality than those without the condition. According to April 2020 research published in the Journal of Infection, individuals with diabetes were four times likelier to die from COVID than the general population. And if you want to know your risk level, This Rare Trait Could Keep You Safe From COVID, According to Doctors.
The CDC reports that a wide variety of heart conditions, including pulmonary hypertension, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, and heart failure all increase your risk of serious COVID complications. Unfortunately, even among individuals with no prior heart condition, COVID can weaken the heart, according to experts at Johns Hopkins.
If you struggle with your weight, you may more likely to develop COVID complications. However, storing fat in certain areas may put you at greater risk. A September 2020 study published in Metabolism suggests that visceral fat, which is stored around the abdomen, is particularly associated with COVID mortality risk.