A new virus began appearing in headlines all over the world in 2020. The main reason for that is the unexpected speed of its transmission. This virus was first found in Wuhan, China in the end of December 2019 and traveled to the United States and the Philippines. This virus was officially named COVID-19. It has infected thousands of people and more than 2,000 people have already died.
Despite the global panic in news, the chances of getting affected by a coronavirus are low unless you have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with this condition. Apart from that, there is no need to worry about this virus if you have not traveled to China recently. However, it is still important to understand its essence. Therefore, the following section of this article focuses on answering the most commonly asked questions people have about COVID-19.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
This virus is still considered new and specialists are still learning new things about it every day. Although, specialists claim that coronavirus might not initially cause any symptoms. This virus can be carried for two days and up to two weeks. However, doctors still differentiate between several symptoms that were linked to COVID-19 and they are as follows:
- Encountering short of breath
- Encountering a cough that continues for than a week and gets severe over time
- Encountering fever that increases gradually
- Encountering severe nerve pain
It should be also said that the complete list of symptoms is still to be investigated. Although, if you are experiencing the aforementioned symptoms and have traveled to China in the past fourteen days or have been in contact with someone who was diagnosed with coronavirus, you should your primary care physician immediately.
What are the causes of COVID-19?
It was identified that coronavirus is zoonotic meaning that it first develops in animals before developing in humans. A person has to be in close contact with an animal that carries in order for the virus to pass from animal to human. Once the virus has developed in a person, it can be transferred from a person to person through respiratory droplets, which is wet stuff that moves through the air when a person sneezes or coughs.
This viral material hangs out in these droplets and might be breathed into the respiratory tract where the virus can result in an infection. It is also worth mentioning that coronavirus has not been linked to a specific animal. However, doctors have an assumption that the virus might have been passed from bats to another animal such as pangolins or snakes and then further transferred to humans. It is most likely that this transmission occurred in the open food market in Wuhan, China.
Who is at risk of getting infected?
As was mentioned previously, you are at risk of getting exposed to this virus if you have traveled to China in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone who was diagnosed with coronavirus. You are even at a higher risk if you were exposed to their salvia or have been near them when they have sneezed or coughed.
The risk of getting infected by this virus can be decreased if you wash your hands properly and disinfect the surfaces. Specialists state that older men are at higher risk of getting infected by a coronavirus. According to the research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), the average age of people who were diagnosed with COVID-19 is around 45 years. In addition to that, more than two-thirds of those people were male.
What are the ways to diagnose this condition?
This virus is typically diagnosed the same way as other viral infections. This is done by means of taking blood, tissue and/or saliva samples. One important detail to be mentioned is that only the CDC is currently able to diagnose COVID-19 in the United States. You should have a consultation with your primary care physician if you have symptoms of coronavirus or if you have traveled to China in the past 14 days. Your doctor will get in contact with local health officials for the purpose of providing guidance on whether there is a need to test for the coronavirus.
If such a need exists, a lab technician will either take a sample of your blood or make use of a cotton swab for the purpose of taking samples of salvia or respiratory secretions from your nose or the back of your throat. After this step, samples will be sent to the testing facility in order to confirm or refute the presence of a virus.
Are there any possible treatments available?
Unfortunately, there are no treatments that are specifically approved for the coronavirus and there is no cure for this infection. Although, it should be also said that vaccines and treatments are currently under study. Currently, treatment focuses mainly on addressing symptoms of this virus.
If you feel that you got infected by a coronavirus, you should call your primary care physician immediately. He/she will advise treatment for any symptoms that you have or complications that develop. Some possible treatments are as follows:
- Retroviral and antiviral medications
- Mechanical ventilation for breathing support
- Steroids aimed to reduce swelling
- Blood plasma transfusions
Are there any possible complications from coronavirus?
It was confirmed that the most severe complication of coronavirus is a type of pneumonia, which is called novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia (NCIP). Recent studies showed that out of 138 people in hospitals of Wuhan, 26 percent experienced severe NCIP and required an intense care unit (ICU). Apart from that, approximately 4.3 percent of those people with NCIP died.
By now, NCIP is the only complication that was linked to COVID-19. Although, researchers claim to observe the following complications in people who had a coronavirus:
- Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
- ARDS, which stands for acute respiratory distress syndrome
- Serious muscle pain
- Heart attack
- Cardiovascular shock or heart damage
How to prevent COVID-19?
Specialists say that currently the best method for preventing the spread of this virus is eliminating or avoiding contact with people who were diagnosed with coronavirus. You should also avoid traveling to China for a period of time until the virus stops its existence. Another approach that can be implemented for the purpose of getting prevented from this virus is practicing proper hygiene. In addition to that, you can also make use of the following recommendations:
- Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds at a time with soap and warm water
- Avoid touching your face, nose, mouth, and eyes when your hands are not washed
- Make sure to stay at home if you feel sick or have any flu or cold symptoms
- Do not forget about covering your mouth with the inside elbow every time you cough and/or sneeze. It is also recommended to throw away any tissues that were used for blowing your nose or sneezing right away
- Ensure that every object your touch is clean and disinfected. These include phones, computers, door handles, dishwares and so on
Once again, if you have been in contact with someone who was diagnosed with coronavirus or if you have traveled to China in the last 14 days, schedule a consultation with your primary care physician. He/she will be able to tell you whether any further actions need to be taken.