COVID-19 : Symptoms, Management & Tests - Medx Health Assistance

COVID-19 : Symptoms, Management & Tests

What is COVID-19?

SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2) is the new coronavirus that causes the disease called COVID-19. It is a respiratory virus which means it can spread through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. People of all ages can get infected by the new virus but those aged 60 years and above, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity or cancer, are at greater risk of developing severe illness. However, most individuals who catch COVID-19 are able to recover and remove the virus from their bodies.

Treatments for COVID-19 are being developed by scientists all over the world. However, currently, there is no approved medication. With numerous large clinical trials being carried out, many COVID-19 vaccines are being studied for their potentiality. Once proven safe and effective, the vaccine must then be approved by national regulators, before being manufactured and distributed.

Until then, to keep yourself safe, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Make wearing a mask as normal as being around people. Also, maintain physical distance, especially from anyone who is coughing and sneezing. Follow the local guidelines. If you have symptoms, follow up with your health care provider or COVID-19 hotline for assistance. 

For more information read 

Myth-busting COVID-19 https://sanad.website/medx2/myth-busting-covid-19/

 

Symptoms

It takes 5-6 days on an average and can range from 1-14 days, for the symptoms to begin if you have been exposed to COVID-19. Hence, to prevent the spread of the virus, people are being advised to remain home and stay away from others for 14 days if they have been exposed to the virus.

The list of symptoms given below is not an exhaustive list. These are only the most common symptoms of serious illness, but you could get very sick with other symptoms. If you develop any of these symptoms, you must seek medical care immediately.

Symptoms of COVID-19
Serious Most Common Less Common
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing
  • Loss of speech or mobility or confusion
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Fatigue/tiredness
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Aches and pains,
  • A rash on the skin or discoloration of fingers or toes
  • Red or irritated eyes
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills or dizziness.

If you experience fever and/or cough with shortness of breath or pain or pressure in the chest, reach out to your health care provider or COVID-19 hotline and seek medical attention at a health facility immediately, to avoid complications. Respiratory failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), sepsis and septic shock, thromboembolism, and/or multi-organ failure, including injury of the heart, liver or kidneys, are among some complications that can lead to death.

Prolonged experience of symptoms such as fatigue, respiratory and neurological symptoms even after recovering from COVID-19, can be normal for some people.

 

Management

Among the people who develop symptoms, around 80%, recover from the disease without requiring any hospital treatment; around 15% become severely sick and require oxygen and those who fall critically ill and need intensive care are around 5%. Research and studies are being carried out to develop further guidance for patient care.

If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or even if you feel well, follow these instructions:

  • Find out where and when to get tested by getting in touch with your health care provider or COVID-19 hotline. 
  • Cooperate with protocols for contact-tracing to avoid the spread of the virus. 
  • Stay home and away from others for 14 days, if testing is not available. 
  • Do not go to work, to school or to public places when you are in quarantine. Have someone bring supplies for you. 
  • Maintain a distance of at least 1 meter from others, including members of your family. 
  • Wear a medical mask to safeguard others, even when seeking medical attention.
  • Keep your hands clean.
  • Stay in a separate room; if not possible, wear a medical mask.
  • Place the beds at least 1 metre apart, if sharing a room.
  • Make sure that the room is well-ventilated.
  • Track yourself for 14 days for any symptoms.
  • Keep in touch with loved ones and exercise at home to stay positive/optimistic.

Areas with malaria or dengue fever are at higher risk; seek medical help in case you have a fever. Make mask mandatory while travelling to and from the health facility as well as during medical care. Practice social distancing by keeping at least a 1-metre distance, if not 2 metres, from other people and avoid touching surfaces with your hands. This applies to adults and children.

Isolation and quarantine are highly effective methods of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Quarantine means that you remain separated from others, for 14 days in a designated facility or at home, because you have been exposed to the virus (with or without symptoms) and you may be infected. 

Isolation means being separated from other people, for 10 days ideally in a medically facility to receive clinical care because you have tested positive for the virus. Isolation can take place at home, if it is not possible at a medical facility and you are not in a high risk category of developing serious illness. If symptoms are evident, you should remain in isolation for at least 10 days plus an additional 3 days without symptoms.

For more information on staying safe read 7 precautions (https://sanad.website/medx2/how-to-be-safe-from-covid-19/). 

Tests

It is advised that, wherever possible, anyone with symptoms should be tested. People who do not have symptoms but have had close contact with someone who is, or may be, contaminated with the virus, should also consider testing. Connect with your local health guidelines and abide by their guidance. While waiting for your test results, remain isolated from others. 

The most widely used molecular test for detecting SARS-CoV-2 and confirming infection is polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Through a swab, samples are obtained from the nose and/or throat. By amplifying viral genetic material to measurable levels, molecular tests identify the virus in the sample. Hence, to confirm an active infection, a molecular test is conducted usually within a few days of exposure and about the time that symptoms may begin.

Rapid antigen tests or rapid diagnostic test – RDT, detect viral proteins (also known as antigens). Through a swab, samples are obtained from the nose and/or throat. These tests are cheaper than PCR and, while they are usually less reliable, can deliver results more quickly. These tests are efficient and effective when there is more virus circulating among people and when sampled from an individual during the time they are most contagious. 

If the capacity for testing is low, tests should first be conducted for those at greater risk of infection, such as health staff, and for those at higher risk of serious illness, such as the elderly, especially those living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities.

SOURCES:

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) (who.int)

Advice for the public (who.int)

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