Pectus Excavatum and Coronavirus COVID-19 – You Must Isolate

Evidence Based This post has medical citations

pectus excavatum covid-19

Pectus Excavatum and Coronavirus COVID-19

According to the World Health Organization, the Coronaviruses are an extended family of viruses that can cause disease in both humans and animals.

The most recently discovered coronavirus is the COVID-19. It causes respiratory infections, which can negatively affect the people with pectus excavatum deformity, who have reduced lung capacity and are prone to pulmonary diseases.

The infection caused by COVID-19 can be a common cold, pneumonia, up to serious respiratory diseases like MARS and SARS. COVID-19 was undiscovered until the epidemic in Wuhan, China, in late 2019.

I will show you a few studies, doctor’s tips, and experiences of concave chest sufferers who survived the coronavirus disease. Keep in mind that COVID-19 is a new virus, so doctors and scientists can’t give a definite answer on how it affects people with pectus excavatum.

10 Early Symptoms

According to WHO (World Health Organization), symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • High fever
  • Physical exhaustion
  • Dry and frequent cough
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Chest pains
  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of taste or smell

The symptoms are moderate at the start but progress steadily. Some people become infected, but don’t have any symptoms of the disease.

Click the following link to learn about the essential defensive measures against the new coronavirus. The same rules apply for pectus excavatum patients.

How Serious Is It?

Approximately one in six people become critically sick and develop shortness of breath because of the coronavirus.

As a person with pectus excavatum, you don’t want this to happen to you. Generally, people with the deformity already have reduced lung capacity.

The breathing difficulties caused by the COVID-19 disease and the shortness of breath you probably feel by your chest deformity can put your life at risk.

It is not only the elderly and the people with underlying health conditions, who are prone to developing a significant illness. As reported by BBC, a 21-year-old female has died after catching coronavirus. Surprisingly, she had no underlying medical conditions.

KEY POINT:

COVID-19 can be very dangerous if you suffer from pectus excavatum.

How COVID-19 Affects Pectus Excavatum

To all people worrying and asking how the COVID-19 will affect a patient’s lung functioning with pectus excavatum, this post by Business Insider will be helpful.

In the research, doctors are discussing how the coronavirus affects the lungs of a pectus excavatum sufferer. If a sufferer gets the virus and manages to recover from it, it will reduce 20% to 30% of the total lung capacity.

If you didn’t know, research proves patients with pectus excavatum already have a lower lung capacity in comparison to healthy people.

I will list a few scientific articles that prove this, below. I’ve heard multiple doctors say the coronavirus will affect people with constrained lungs. These are people with asthma, and as the studies prove, pectus excavatum sufferers.

KEY POINT:

The new coronavirus can lower your lung capacity by 30%, even after healing.

Decreased Lung Capacity and COvid-19

Shortness of breath and exercise intolerance has been related to pectus excavatum from the very start. A study published in 2007, led by Robert Edward Kelly Jr., involved 11 North American medical centers.

It was discovered that 65% of all patients with pectus excavatum complained of breathing difficulties while doing physical activity. A similar percentage of the patients also reported exercise intolerance.

Research published in 2016 by Donald Nuss, Robert E. Kelly, and Robert Obermeyer, concluded that pectus excavatum in most patients decreases their pulmonary function (lung capacity).

They also discovered that when the deformity is repaired with a Nuss procedure, the pulmonary function is also improved. Similar findings were reported in a 2005 study.

Researchers concluded that pectus excavatum patients have lower lung functionality in comparison to regular patients. After the Nuss procedure and Pectus bar removal, the lung capacity in the patients improved.

This proves that when the pectus excavatum deformity is corrected, the lung capacity goes back to normal. There are a few other scientific articles that prove this point.

I don’t want you to panic. I am trying to convince you that people with pectus excavatum should take COVID-19 more seriously, and should be categorized as high-risk.

I am surprised how doctors don’t inform their patients with severe pectus excavatum, that they in the High-Risk category. The scientific evidence is here.

Please follow the instructions of WHO. If your deformity is severe, your heart and lungs can have trouble dealing with the virus. You know your body better than everyone.

In my opinion, a lot of people aren’t taking pectus excavatum problems seriously. It is not worth the risk of getting a COVID-19 infection.

KEY POINT:

It is scientifically proven that people with the pectus excavatum deformity are prone to pulmonary infections, because their lung capacity is decreased.

Don’t Underestimate the Coronavirus

Please don’t underestimate the virus. Doctors in Italy say that COVID-19 is very aggressive, attacking the strong and healthy. A lot of people with only a mild case of pectus excavatum had the flu and developed acute respiratory distress syndrome within a week.

Kids born with severe P.E. have a weak immune system and breathe very fast, loud, and heavy. You must tell your kids to wear a mask every time they must go out.

The virus is far more deadly than people first initially thought. Even if your P.E. is corrected, but you have a Marfan Syndrome, you are still at high risk because it still restricts the lungs.

KEY POINT:

COVID-19 is extremely dangerous and is destroying the medical systems of one of the most sophisticated countries in the world.

What Doctors Have to Say

I’ve collected information of a few worried patients on Facebook groups related to pectus excavatum. They asked the doctors how to deal with the new coronavirus.

Kid with Severe Pectus Excavatum & Asthma

A parent of a kid with a severe P.E. has asthma, pneumonia, and respiratory syncytial virus. He says his kid is continually getting sick, and when he gets sick, it hits him hard.

His primary care physician and pulmonologist suggested keeping him confined as much as possible. He is at high risk and very vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. Don’t take any chances with your kids. They need to be self-isolating.

52 Year Old Employee Experience 

An older gentleman aged 52, has severe P.E. and is getting out of breath quickly, especially at night. His employer is letting him work from home; however, only because he has asthma.

He says that if you only suffer from pectus excavatum, you must still go to work. The employers usually need something official to allow them to be off for 12 weeks.

Leave things to no chance. Tell your employers you have pectus excavatum. If they’re unfamiliar with it, explain it to them shortly. Show them the scientific studies I mentioned above and clarify why you should be considered in the high-risk group.

It would be good if pectus excavatum could also be formally recognized as a respiratory condition.

Parent Is At Risk of Being Infected

A parent with severe P.E. and compromised lung capacity and breathlessness is scared of his teenage boys coming back and going to school. Even though he doesn’t go to work, he is still prone to catching the new coronavirus.

53 Year Old Gentleman with PEctus Survived Corona

Another person who, at the time of this writing, is 53 years old with a moderate deformity, had the Coronavirus in February 2020. He said that his breathing was difficult. Thankfully, he survived.

I’ve also been messaged by many P.E. sufferers who have doctors that didn’t give them any advice on the subject because they don’t know enough about the virus. In most patients, it’s only the family doctor that told them they have P.E.

They aren’t referred to a different doctor. With time, the condition can get worse, and you can get breathless at work if you do a physical job.

KEY POINT:

Some doctors are aware of the damages the new coronavirus can cause to people with a funnel chest deformity.

Pectus Excavatum Is In High-RIsk Category

I got this information from the Marfan Foundation, which I have found to be very clear and straight to the point. This suggests that patients with pectus excavatum are at high risk.

Question: Do Pectus excavatum and scoliosis cause restrictive lung disease in certain instances. If you had it corrected, is restrictive lung disease gone? #CV19Marfan

— TheMarfanFoundation (@MarfanFdn) March 12, 2020

If you have pectus or scoliosis, you likely have some measure of restriction that will persist. You are likely in the high risk category b/c there is still some restriction. #CV19Marfan

— TheMarfanFoundation (@MarfanFdn) March 12, 2020

KEY POINT:

The Marfan Syndrome Foundation categorizes pectus excavatum patients as high-risk.

If you Feel Symptoms

Doctors do not accept patients who have not called ahead for COVID screening first, in many states in the U.S. A lot of people are going straight to the doctors, without calling for COVID screening.

This puts others at risk. Call your local COVID-19 screening team. They will examine your symptoms by calling you on the phone and inform you about self-treatment alternatives.

Don’t go anywhere without the COVID screening team telling you to. Please, stay isolated at home. Your local hospital can also help you connect with this team.

You will be fine. Don’t worry. If you get extreme shortness of breath (it can happen in a few days after you felt the first symptoms), call an ambulance immediately.

Relax through it, and peacefully wait until your results come. You may not even have the coronavirus at all. Meanwhile, stay hydrated, stretch, do light exercises in your house, and eat your favorite healthy foods.

You must stay safe. Reach out to me if you need to talk to somebody about COVID-19 and pectus excavatum. Any preexisting lung condition and respiratory system infection have a chance to become problematic.

If one of your family members has pectus excavatum, please disinfect yourself if you’ve been outside, before stepping indoors. The coronavirus is especially dangerous if you recently underwent a pectus excavatum surgery (Nuss or Ravitch procedure).

After surgery, lung functionality is decreased. Generally, the lungs work only about 50% post-surgically. It can be very dangerous if you contract the COVID-19 virus during this period.

KEY POINT:

If you feel any symptoms, please call the COVID screening team in your area. Don’t go to the hospital. You will put other people at risk.

Little Is Known About COVID-19

If you recently underwent surgery to fix your pectus excavatum deformity, please call your surgeon and ask about the virus. However, very little is known about COVID-19 and pectus excavatum.

Most of what we read about COVID is anecdotal at this moment. COVID-19 is a new virus, so doctors still can’t give a definite answer. I tried to find as much scientifically proven data to write this chapter.

I’ve also searched in all Pectus forums about experiences with the COVID virus and decided to share them all with you. If you live with someone, please explain your situation, and politely ask them to be the designated person to go out and buy food and medications.

If you’re living alone, please wear a mask when you go out and stay away from touching your mouth, nose, and eyes. That will significantly reduce the risk.

KEY POINT:

There aren’t any scientific researches about pectus exavatum and COVID-19.

How to Stay Relaxed

If you’re feeling anxious, try to keep yourself busy.

Do daily meditation, exercise, find a new hobby, clean your entire house, reconnect with your old friends, and, most importantly, follow the World Health Organization’s standards to stay healthy.

It is perfectly normal to feel overly anxious about COVID-19, especially if you suffer from reduced lung capacity caused by your pectus excavatum condition.

If you’re anxious, your breathing will be more strained than usual. Try not to focus on COVID-19. Don’t watch the news all day. That is proven to increase your stress levels, especially during a worldwide pandemic.

However, keep in mind that the pandemic is severe. I noticed that I was stressed out too. I found yoga breathing and meditation to be beneficial in calming my nervousness.

I mainly focus on breathing deep in my stomach and ribs. After each session, I feel calmed and relaxed. Try this. It will make your life a lot easier during these stressful times that we live in.

I wouldn’t expect any doctor to call you individually and warn you about the coronavirus. They all expect us to follow the guidelines of the World Health Organization we’ve all been given.

Additionally, most pediatricians don’t think pectus excavatum affects your child’s health. If the coronavirus is symptomatic, it makes you cough a lot. If you already have pectus excavatum, expect to feel a sharp pain in your chest.

KEY POINT:

The COVID-19 pandemic is extremely stressful for everybody. Meditation, yoga and deep breathing can calm you.

Postpone the Surgeries

If you have a respiratory infection after a Nuss or Ravitch procedure, expect to feel like your chest is being ripped open every time you cough.

This happened to a lot of patients, even a year after the initial surgery. Postoperatively, you’ll be going in and out of hospitals for regular check-ups.

That will increase the chances of getting infected by the coronavirus disease, which will result in frequent dry coughs that will be extremely painful.

You wouldn’t want to increase the chance of something that will make you repeatedly cough. The surgeon’s office will probably be overwhelmed by people asking for help about the coronavirus disease.

You will run into follow-up problems. It will be hard to schedule an appointment or even ask a question unrelated to the coronavirus.

I heartily approve the decision of Vice President Pence, who asked all elective procedures to be postponed during a press conference in the White House. This was requested by the U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams.

The point is that the medical systems in almost all countries globally are exhausted by the coronavirus disease. As of this writing, a clear example is Italy and Spain.

All medical workers and resources will be directed toward dealing with the COVID-19. Even “non-elective” surgeries can be put at risk. There is a shortage of beds in the intensive care unit in Italy.

Doctors are making tough decisions on who they are going to save, and who will die. This is what is happening in Europe right now, as reported by Euronews. If it were me, I would reschedule my surgery.

KEY POINT:

All non-elective surgeries will probably be cancelled. The Nuss procedure and Ravitch are considered non-elective. You will increase the risk of contracting COVID-19 if you stay at the hospital.

Is It Dangerous for Patients Undergoing Nuss Procedure?

There is still not a definite answer to this question. However, even though the Nuss procedure is categorized as minimally invasive, it is still strenuous.

If your body is not healed yet, it will pressure your immune system, trying to heal and fight the coronavirus disease off. If you’re breathing better than you did pre-operatively, it is a good sign that you’re recovering well. It is normal to feel pain even a year after the surgery.

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