Maintaining an awareness of how our bodies feel is a good way to notice any changes in our physical or mental well-being. Depending on our own general health condition and medical history, there is a range of normal that may vary from one individual to the next. Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell if you need to see a doctor. This cognizance is even more important during these unusual times. Because COVID-19 is so prevalent and contagious, many of us are concerned about the potential symptoms and how we may be affected by the disease if we are infected.
Indications of COVID-19
The coronavirus family encompasses many different types, some of which produce nothing more than a common cold. COVID-19, the infectious disease that surfaced at the end of 2019, is caused by a new type of coronavirus, aptly referred to as the 2019 novel coronavirus. The WHO (World Health Organization) has been in constant monitor-and-respond mode, continuously updating information on how the disease is spreading and impacting people worldwide.
Symptoms the WHO has reported as the most common are fever, fatigue and dry cough. However, patients have also experienced aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, diarrhea and difficulty breathing. Some people who have experience COVID-19 mention a lack of taste or smell, skin rashes, or cognitive issues. At the onset, the disease may be mild and come on gradually, or symptoms may spike suddenly.
Some people do not feel ill at all when they become infected. In fact, WHO states that about 80% are not in need of any special treatment, and these patients recover on their own. However, there is a concern for the one out of every six people infected by COVID-19 who develop a serious illness and have difficulty breathing.
Steps to take if symptoms occur
If you display symptoms and think you have had exposure to COVID-19, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) suggests that you contact your health care provider right away. Teleheath services have been expanded by Medicare during this period of time to allow patients to receive medical guidance without endangering themselves. If you only have a fever or cough, the doctor may recommend a COVID-19 test, and may suggest you stay at home to recover. With the exception of leaving the house to seek medical support as instructed by your health care practitioner, the CDC advises remaining home, getting rest, staying hydrated, keeping in contact with your physician and avoiding public transportation.
The CDC outlines the following as examples of emergency warning signs for COVID-19: Trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to be aroused, and bluish lips or face. Report these and any other concerns to your doctor. The severity and management of illness is an individual matter that should be evaluated by your health care provider based on how much of an impact the condition has on your body’s ability to function.
People at high risk
The group most at risk for contracting the disease and developing severe illness include people age 65 and older, anyone who resides in a nursing home or in a long-term care facility, and any age group afflicted with certain pre-existing medical conditions. These conditions may include high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer and diabetes. It’s important to note that there have been many people infected with the disease who do not meet these criteria, and the disease can affect anyone.
Resources to stay up-to-date
All media outlets are chock-full of news on the coronavirus, so be sure to obtain COVID-19 updates from credible sources that provide factual and current information. These include CDC.gov/coronavirus, coronavirus.gov, USA.gov and medicare.gov/medicare-coronavirus.