The entire world is talking about COVID-19 or coronavirus. Some countries such as Italy have come to a halt. In this article I will discuss the symptoms of COVID-19 and when you should worry.
Many Governors have ordered schools, bars, restaurants, and colleges to be closed. This action is unprecedented. Perhaps because COVID-19 is a novel virus.
To date, there is no treatment or vaccine. Although the flu has killed over 18,000 Americans this 2020 season, we have a treatment for the flu and we have a vaccine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the majority of patients who died did not take the flu shot.
This virus is different. It has no treatment. We are in a pandemic.
Incubation of COVID-19
What makes this virus unique is that it has a fairly long incubation period. The incubation period for COVID-19 is up to 14 days. This means that you can have the virus for 14 days before you start to show symptoms.
During this time, you are contagious. However, the median incubation period is 4 days.
Illness Severity of COVID-19
The COVID infection ranges from mild to critical. Most infections are not severe.
- In 81% thee was mild pneumonia or no pneumonia
- 14% reported severe disease such as shortness of breath, hypoxia with lung involvement occurring in 50% of the cases.
- In 5%, there were critical diseases such as respiratory failure, shock, or multi-organ failure.
- The overall fatality was 2.3%.
- Most of the fatal cases have occurred in people with underlying health conditions like
People of all ages can get this acute respiratory syndrome; however adults of middle age and older are mostly affected.
However, we are now seeing more young people and even infants have been infected.
The symptoms can be vague. That is another reason why COVID-19 is so concerning and challenging.
The main symptoms are :
- Shortness of breath
As you know, these are vague symptoms. So what are some criteria to consider?
If you have been out of the country, especially to China you would need to be tested.
If you have an underlying health condition, you are vulnerable. These health conditions include:
- Heart disease
- Autoimmune disease
- Pregnant women
- The elderly
We are still seeing respiratory symptoms as the main presenting symptoms. However, the standard treatments that we use for respiratory symptoms such as nebulizers or BIPAP are not working.
We are using supportive interventions such as oxygen, inhalers, and Tylenol for the fevers.
Many people present with the consolidation of the lungs. This usually is indicative of pneumonia and we have antibiotics to treat that infection.
- The CDC has minimal information on the risk for pregnant women. However, there has been one case reported where a newborn baby has contracted the disease.
- Although the rates of infection are about the same between the young and the elderly, the elderly most likely will have complications or due because they have underlying medical conditions. This makes the virus so much more challenging.
Testing for COVID
It is difficult to get tested because of the lack of test kits. There are so many reasons why the testing is not available. However, it does not do anybody any good to place blame. We are in this together. Trust me: the virus does not discriminate.
At this point, people who present with certain symptoms such as fever and shortness of breath are giving a priority with testing.
Take Away Musings By a Frontline Nurse
As a frontline provider, I don’t know how I feel these days. To be honest, I am numb. Many bedside nurses are numb. We are going through the motions. I am begging people to just isolate. Take this time to get back in touch with your family. We need each other.