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What is an underlying health condition or issue for COVID-19?

WFAA spoke with 10 doctors to find out what exactly that term means.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads further around the world, doctors continue to say older populations and those with an underlying health condition are most at risk. 

But what exactly is considered an underlying health issue or condition in the context of the disease?

WFAA reached out to 10 doctors to find out, and they all responded the same way. 

The term can be split into two categories.

The first is chronic conditions-- these are long-term medical diseases or illnesses like asthma, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, high blood pressure (even if it is controlled with medication), heart disease, lung disease, liver disease, COPD and cancer. These kinds of conditions also tend to be incurable. 

For those who are in cancer remission, doctors suggest you consult with your physician on your individual risk level and err on the side of caution-- practice social distancing and stay at home as much as possible while the pandemic continues. 

The second category is basically any other condition that weakens the immune system, or a person's defense systems, and leaves someone immuno-compromised. These tend to be shorter-term medical conditions that can impact a person's health like serious infections such as pneumonia, an infection of the lungs. Those with auto-immune disorders like lupus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis are also vulnerable. 

So what's not considered an underlying health condition? The flu, acute bronchitis, a bacterial infection or trauma are some examples.

And while smoking or vaping are considered to be habits that can cause or worsen chronic and acute diseases, they are not considered underlying health conditions, either. 

RELATED: COVID-19: What you need to know about this coronavirus outbreak

So, if you do have one of these underlying health conditions, what should you do? 

Doctors recommend you have as little contact with public spaces as possible, continuously wash your hands, avoid touching your face and continue to maintain your hygiene and overall health the best you can.  

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