This Common Condition Makes You 9 Times More Likely to Die From COVID

You could be one of the nearly 50 percent of Americans who deal with this issue.

You could get COVID and never even know it. You could also get COVID and experience numerous mild symptoms. But what you don't want is to get a severe case that sends you to the hospital. Unfortunately, there is still so much unknown about the virus that it's difficult to predict if you'd be one of the fortunate ones—or would be headed for the emergency room. And while health experts have pinpointed various conditions that could raise someone's risk for a severe form of the virus, new risk factors are still being discovered. In fact, a new study just concluded that one common condition could make you nine times more likely to die from COVID. Read on to find out if you're affected by this issue, and for more coronavirus complications, If You've Done This, You're Twice as Likely to Develop Severe COVID.

People with gum disease are nine times more likely to die from COVID.

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A study published Feb. 3 in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology observed 568 COVID patients diagnosed between February and July of last year. When looking at the outcomes of these patients, the researchers found that those with gum disease were nearly nine times more likely to die from COVID than the patients who did not have gum disease. Even if the patients with gum disease did not die, they were still more likely to experience severe complications from COVID. According to the study, the patients with gum disease were 3.5 times more likely to be admitted to intensive care units (ICU) and 4.5 times more likely to need a ventilator. And for more coronavirus news, If You're Over 65, You Could Be Missing This COVID Symptom, Study Says.

Researchers believe this may be due to increased inflammation levels in the body.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, causes inflammation of the gums and bone that surround the teeth—and this inflammation can spread throughout the entire body if not treated. The coronavirus also produces inflammation, and researchers think this combination could account for the heightened risk of complications for COVID patients with gum disease. The study found that blood markers—which indicate inflammation in the body—were significantly higher in the COVID patients with gum disease than those without.

"The results of the study suggest that the inflammation in the oral cavity may open the door to the coronavirus becoming more violent," Lior Shapira, DMD, president-elect of the European Federation of Periodontology, said in a statement. "Oral care should be part of the health recommendations to reduce the risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes." And for more recent coronavirus discoveries, If You Have This in Your Blood, You May Be Safe From COVID, Study Says.

Gum disease is very common in the United States.

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The CDC says that periodontal disease is very common in the U.S. According to the agency's data, nearly 5o percent of adults 30 years or older have some form of periodontal disease. And this only increases with age, as more than 70 percent of adults 65 years or older have periodontal disease. However, the CDC has yet to include gum disease as a risk factor for severe COVID—though older age, which often correlates with gum disease, is considered a risk factor by the agency. And for more essential guidance, The CDC Warns Against Using These 6 Face Masks.

There are several warning signs and risk factors for gum disease.

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According to CDC, warning signs of periodontal disease include bad breath or a bad taste that won't go away, painful chewing, loose or sensitive teeth, and gums that are red, swollen, tender, or bleeding. Your gums may also pull away from your teeth, and you could also notice a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite. If you spot any of these signs, you should visit your dentist for a checkup. Make sure you're also aware of the common factors that can lead to gum disease, such as smoking, diabetes, poor oral hygiene, stress, medications, and even female hormonal changes. And for more changes to pay attention to, If You Notice This in Your Mouth, You Could Have COVID, Experts Warn.

Researchers say working to prevent or treat gum disease is extremely important amid COVID.

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This link between gum disease and COVID death means that continued health and hygiene measures to fight against gum disease are extremely important during the pandemic. Shapira said that although gum disease is common, it can be prevented and treated. The latter is especially important for people who contract COVID. Mariano Sanz, MD, one of the study's authors and a professor of periodontology at the University Complutense of Madrie, said that oral bacteria in patients with periodontitis can be inhaled and infect the lungs, particularly if that person is using a ventilator. "This may contribute to the deterioration of patients with COVID-19 and raise the risk of death. Hospital staff should identify COVID-19 patients with periodontitis and use oral antiseptics to reduce transmission of bacteria," he explained in a statement.

According to the CDC, a less severe form of gum disease, known a gingivitis, can be treated at home with good oral hygiene—which includes brushing and flossing every day—and regular professional cleaning. However, if you have progressed into the more severe form of the disease, periodontitis, you may need further dental treatments like deep cleaning, medication, or corrective surgery. And for more ways to keep yourself healthy, This Common Medication Could Save You From Severe COVID, New Study Says.

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Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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