The rapid spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) across the globe has many people — including veterans at risk of mesothelioma — scrambling for more trusted information. The coronavirus shares several symptoms with mesothelioma, such as fever, cough, and fatigue. Veterans at risk of the coronavirus should access government resources to learn how to stay safe.
What Veterans with Mesothelioma Need to Know about Coronavirus
The coronavirus is a dangerous disease that has swept the entire world. The U.S. reached over 300,000 cases as of early April 2020, with nearly 2,700 veterans affected. Analysts believe that number could be multitudes higher in the coming spring and summer months.
The coronavirus can cause flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever, or sore muscles. Most people with the coronavirus will only have mild respiratory symptoms that do not require any treatment at a hospital or medical center.
However, those with underlying health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancers like mesothelioma may be at a higher risk of developing complications from the coronavirus (like pneumonia). Older people are also at a higher risk.
At the moment, there is no cure or vaccines for the coronavirus. Several ongoing clinical trials are evaluating how patients respond to particular treatments, and the U.S. government is working with international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) on keeping the public updated.
As the coronavirus continues to spread with no end in sight, veterans need to stay informed about the disease and its dangers — especially if they are at risk of mesothelioma, an incurable cancer that shares some symptoms with the coronavirus.
Coronavirus vs. Mesothelioma in Veterans
The coronavirus and mesothelioma can both be deadly to veterans, and they may be mistaken for each other.
Both COVID-19 and mesothelioma share the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
The key differences between the diseases are how they are contracted, how they are treated, and how they affect life expectancy.
Mesothelioma can develop in the lining of the lungs, abdominal cavity, heart, or testicles. It is caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. Those who work in industries such as construction or mining may be at higher risk of asbestos exposure.
Once exposed, mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases may not present for decades.
The coronavirus is contracted through exposure to other people who have the virus. It is spread through saliva or discharge from the nose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends staying 6 feet apart from others in public spaces to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Mesothelioma is treated with chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. These treatments can prolong the lifespan of someone with mesothelioma, but it is considered a terminal illness. There currently is not a cure.
Although the coronavirus does not yet have a treatment, the disease only presents mild symptoms for most patients, and some will not have any symptoms at all. The coronavirus is most dangerous in the immunocompromised, seniors, or those already suffering from an underlying health condition.
Where Can Veterans Learn More About the Coronavirus?
As a new virus, there is currently a lot of misinformation spreading about COVID-19. It is important for veterans to make sure that the information they receive about the virus is coming from a trusted source.
The good news is that there are several veteran-focused outlets that are providing regular updates with new information about the virus.
VAntage Point, the VA’s official blog, and US Veterans Magazine are both publishing new information about the virus as it becomes available to keep veterans safe.
Other trusted sources for COVID-19 information include:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
The CDC, VA, and FEMA have scientists, researchers, and medical staff who verify that all of the information they release is accurate and medically safe.
Coronavirus and Mesothelioma: How Veterans Can Stay Safe
In order to avoid contracting the coronavirus, veterans should follow the current CDC guidelines.
- Avoid unnecessary travel/doctors visits
- Call a doctor at the first sign of symptoms
- Practice social distancing
- Wash their hands
For mesothelioma, the only prevention technique is to avoid exposure to asbestos.
Veterans at risk of mesothelioma should:
- Make sure to tell their doctor about any potential mesothelioma symptoms if they were exposed to asbestos
- Tell their doctors about any past exposure to asbestos, as this can help rule out more common causes of symptoms
If you or a loved one may be experiencing coronavirus or mesothelioma symptoms, it is important to contact a medical professional immediately. Early detection and treatment of both diseases can help increase survival times.