The Sjögren’s Foundation, in concert with our medical advisors, is closely monitoring the coronavirus/COVID-19 and what 0ur patients should be doing.
As a Sjögren’s patient, your risk is not necessarily higher for getting the coronavirus than others, but if you do get diagnosed, you should let your physician know that you suffer from Sjögren’s and that you may be at higher risk of complications from COVID-19.
Certain people are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19. These include people:
- Over the age of 60
- Pregnant women
- People with serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, kidney conditions, or people with compromised immune systems
As a note – not all Sjögren’s patients have compromised immune systems. This specific risk factor is for those who regularly take drugs to suppress the immune system. Examples include prednisone, methylprednisolone, Imuran, azathioprine, methotrexate, leflunomide, Arava, CellCept, mycophenolate, Rituxan, cyclophosphamide.
Please note that hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) does NOT suppress your immune system and does not increase any risk for a more serious illness from COVID-19. However all Sjögren’s patients should still be diligent and be tested if symptoms become present.
Take cautionary steps in your everyday activities:
As the number of cases keep rising in the United States, the Foundation is encouraging all patients to consider taking necessary precautions as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reduce your exposure. These precautions include:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue or your elbow. Throw used tissues in trash
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Wash hands each time before applying eye drops, dry mouth or dry skin products
- Avoid touching public surfaces
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Stay home when you are sick
- Avoid people who seem visibly sick
- Practice Social Distancing – Keep 6 feet between yourself and other people and stay home whenever possible
- As per CDC guidelines, wear a mask or cloth face covering to help slow the spread
If the coronavirus is active in your community, consider avoiding crowded places or situations. If there isn’t an active virus near you, please consider your personal health condition as you decide whether to go to where there are a lot of people.
Prepare in Advance
In case your physician and/or local authorities advise you to stay home for an extended time because of coronavirus, be sure to prepare in advance for such a situation:
- Review the medications that you are taking to be sure that you have enough for an extended time. Find out if your pharmacy can deliver refills
- Stock up on food, beverage and hygiene supplies
- Prepare a list of health care providers with contact/access information
- If you live alone, gather a list of contacts who you might call on if needed, such as friends and neighbors
Symptoms of coronavirus?
Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
If you have any of these symptoms, you should CALL your doctor, local hospital or health clinic for advice and how best to be tested.
For additional information, consult the CDC’s website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html#who-is-higher-risk