If you have hereditary angioedema (HAE), certain triggers may cause you to experience a flare or attack of symptoms. Infections are a common HAE trigger.

Some infections are caused by viruses. They may affect your respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, skin, or other body parts.

Here are some strategies you can use to lower your risk of contracting viral infections.

COVID-19 is caused by a novel strain of the coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2. Since it was first identified, it has affected millions of people around the world.

COVID-19 is a condition that mainly affects the lungs. It can also affect other parts of the body, including the gastrointestinal system, circulatory system, and nervous system.

This disease is very new, so researchers only have limited information about it.

Based on early evidence, HAE International reports that having HAE doesn’t appear to raise your risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2.

If you do contract the virus, having HAE doesn’t appear to increase your risk of developing a severe infection or complications from COVID-19.

To avoid exposure to the novel coronavirus, follow these recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Practice physical distancing. Keep at least 6 feet between yourself and members of other households. If someone in your home is sick, avoid close contact with them.
  • Wash your hands often. Use soap and water, or if that’s not an option, a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces on a daily basis. Examples of high-touch surfaces include doorknobs, light switches, countertops, keyboards, faucets, and sinks.
  • Understand the risks of going out and choose activities carefully. No activity is completely risk-free, but some may be safer than others. For example, activities in outdoor spaces are considered to be safer than those that occur in poorly ventilated indoor spaces without room for physical distancing.

The CDC also encourages people to wear face masks when they spend time in public places or with members of other households. A face mask should cover your nose and mouth.

Stress can also trigger an attack of HAE symptoms. If you’re finding it difficult to manage the emotional or social effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, let your doctor know.

Your doctor may share tips to help limit and relieve stress. They may also refer you to a mental health specialist who can help you develop strategies to feel better.

Viral respiratory infections affect your respiratory system, such as your lungs, throat, and nose.

Symptoms may vary from one infection to another. Potential symptoms include:

  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • sore throat
  • runny nose
  • headache
  • fever

Influenza, or the flu, is a common type of viral respiratory infection. Other examples include the common cold, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

To lower your risk of developing the flu or other viral respiratory infections:

  • Get the flu vaccine every year.
  • Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Limit the amount of time you spend around people who show signs of a respiratory infection.

Your doctor may also encourage you to get vaccinated for bacterial infections that cause respiratory symptoms. For example, ask your doctor if you should get the whooping cough and pneumococcal vaccines.

If you’re concerned about in-person vaccinations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, talk to your doctor. The CDC recommends that routine vaccinations, which are an essential part of preventive care, shouldn’t be delayed during the pandemic.

Viral gastrointestinal infections are sometimes known as the stomach flu. They affect your stomach, intestines, or other parts of your gastrointestinal system.

Common symptoms of viral gastrointestinal infections include:

  • stomach cramps
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever, in some cases

To reduce your risk of developing a gastrointestinal infection:

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially before you cook or eat food and after you use the bathroom, handle human or animal waste, or touch raw meat.
  • Avoid sharing towels or other personal care products with other people.
  • Avoid sharing drinking glasses, water bottles, or eating utensils with other people.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who shows signs of a gastrointestinal infection.

Certain types of bacteria can also cause gastrointestinal infections such as food poisoning.

Avoid eating undercooked fish, poultry, meat, or eggs to limit your risk of developing food poisoning. It’s also important to store uncooked animal products separately from raw produce and prepared foods.

Some viral infections affect the skin. Examples include measles, chickenpox, herpes, and warts.

Viral skin infections may cause a variety of symptoms, such as redness, blisters, sores, rash, pain, itching, and sometimes fever.

To help prevent viral skin infections:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Clean and cover any scrapes, cuts, or wounds on your skin.
  • Wear sandals or other shoes around pools, shared showers, and locker rooms.
  • Disinfect shared exercise equipment and athletic gear before you use it. Also, use clothing or a clean towel to create a barrier between your skin and shared equipment.
  • Avoid sharing washcloths, towels, razors, deodorant, body cream, or other personal care products with other people.
  • Wear gloves when handling other people’s dirty laundry, and wash soiled clothing, towels, and linens in hot water with detergent or bleach.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who shows signs of a skin infection.

Some skin infections may also be passed from one person to another during sexual contact.

Get routine screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and ask your partner to do the same. Condoms or another barrier method can help prevent STIs.

Viral infections often resolve on their own without treatment.

But for some types of viral infections, antiviral treatments are available to help reduce the length or severity of the infection. Some medications can also treat symptoms or potential complications.

If you suspect you have a viral infection, contact your doctor. They can help diagnose the cause of your symptoms and recommend a treatment plan.

It’s also important to take your HAE medication as prescribed. Taking your HAE medication may help prevent a flare of symptoms if you develop an infection.

Viral infections may affect your respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, or other parts of your body. They may also trigger an attack of HAE symptoms.

To reduce your risk of contracting a virus, wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water. If that’s not an option, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

It’s also important to avoid close contact with people who show signs of viral infections, avoid sharing personal care products or eating utensils, and practice good overall hygiene.

Following your doctor’s recommended treatment plan for HAE can also help limit your risk of a flare if you develop a viral infection.