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Coronavirus or COVID-19 Key Terms

With all the new information circling about COVID-19, we want to make understanding your risk as easy as possible.  Below are some common terms used when discussing the virus and what they mean for you.

Susceptible– open or subject to

  • If you are more susceptible to COVID-19, this simply means you are someone who might be at a higher risk for contracting the virus.

Comorbid/Comorbidity/Comorbid Conditions- one or more medical conditions existing at the same time

  • You may also see this word interchanged with the phrase multiple chronic conditions. They imply the same meaning.
  • Someone with comorbid conditions might have heart disease along with COPD. While these two conditions are separate and have different effects on the body, their existence together is what makes them more harmful.
  • Someone with heart disease along with COPD who contracts the COVID-19 virus would be considered comorbid. With their original medical conditions already causing problems to their health, the adding of COVID-19 to their existing conditions is what puts them at greater risk.

Underlying Medical Condition

  • Someone may contract COVID-19 but have an underlying medical condition of asthma. Their asthma may be the cause of some of their symptoms, but the virus could make their symptoms or condition worse.

Immunodeficient- having a condition that affects the functioning of the immune system

  • A person with an immune system that is missing some of the necessary tools—normally due to genetics—to defend itself against infection is considered immunodeficient.
  • Someone who is immunodeficient may have more difficulty treating infection and become sick more frequently than the average person because their bodies cannot fight the infection. This is what makes those who are immunodeficient more at risk when it comes to COVID-19.

Immunocompromised- having an impaired or weakened immune system

  • A person can be immunocompromised if there are other things like medications or other illnesses affecting their immune system’s ability to fight off infection. This is slightly different than someone with an immuno-deficiency. It is not the immune system itself where the problem lies but other factors affecting it.
  • Some examples of people who may be immunocompromised include cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, people with autoimmune disorders, transplant patients, people with HIV/AIDS, and radiotherapy patients.

Learn more about assessing your level of risk.

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