Many of my patients have been calling and asking me a lot of questions about the corona virus. I would like to provide you with some important information to help alleviate any fears and to help you to get prepared. In early December when the coronavirus was first brought to the public’s attention I started researching its effects. Because our government has been downplaying the seriousness of the situation many people are going to be caught unprepared. I want to share with you some facts about this virus so you will have the best chance of keeping yourself and those you care about safe.
COVID-19 stands for Corona Virus Disease 2019. For most people COVID-19 only causes mild illness, but it can make some people very ill, and sometimes the infection can be fatal. People over 60, and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart problems, lung problems, or diabetes) appear to be the most vulnerable.
I have heard COVID-19 being compared to the flu, however there is one major difference you need to be aware of. This virus is a novel virus meaning it has never been identified in humans before. This means that nobody on the planet has any immunity to this virus. This is why it is going to spread like a wildfire. It has been estimated by epidemiologists that up to 70% of the entire world’s population will become infected with this virus.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, cough, and shortness of breath. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, and a sore throat. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. There is no known treatment at this time and antibiotics do not work on viruses.
A new study suggests the virus may have mutated at least once, meaning there are two different types of the virus causing illness. The study found that the “L” type is more aggressive and the “S” type is less aggressive. This means that it is actually possible to get both types of the virus at different times. If you have had the virus and recovered you will still need to take precautions so you do not get the other type.
If you become infected and you are under 60 with no major health conditions you will likely get through this just fine. Some people may be hit a little harder than others depending on which type they get, and you may need a week or two in bed to recover. Remember that you can be contagious for up to two weeks before you feel any symptoms, and up to four weeks after you recover. One of your biggest concerns if you become infected needs to be making sure you do not expose anyone to this virus who is over 60 or immune-compromised. Approximately 80% of the people who get this virus will recover without any treatment, but the older you are the more lethal this virus becomes.
Unlike the flu this virus has had very little effect on children. This virus primarily affects the lungs, and children seem to get through it with little or no symptoms. Many children will test positive for the virus even though they have no symptoms. They will be very contagious to others for about six to eight weeks. People who are over 60 and have any type of lung issues need be especially cautious around children.
It is very important to know that for a large percentage of people over 70 the virus frequently causes pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), in which fluid builds up in the small air sacs of the lungs. Without immediate medical intervention, these people will likely not survive. If you have the virus and start experiencing difficulty breathing this is the time to go to the emergency room or to call an ambulance.
The single most important thing you can do to avoid becoming infected is to constantly wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching any surface where infected people could possibly have been. This includes all public places, doctor’s offices, hospitals, and your home if someone in your family is infected.
There will probably come a time when the virus reaches a peak in your area and your local or state government may ask people to stay away from public places. This is to help slow down the spread of the virus so that hospitals and first responders do not become overwhelmed beyond their capacity. Many schools will likely close for the remainder of the school year. After the virus reaches its peak cases will begin to slow down dramatically.
In case it becomes necessary to stay home you will want to have your medications filled in advance. You will want to have on hand any over- the- counter medications you may need if you do contract the virus like pain relievers, fever reducers, and cough syrup. You will also want to have extra tissues, toilet paper, toothpaste, supplements, pet food, etc… It is also helpful to have rubbing alcohol (60% or greater), hydrogen peroxide, aloe vera, and tea tree or lavender oil on hand for making disinfectant spray, wipes, and hand sanitizer.
Unlike a natural disaster, you do not need to prepare for power outages or water shortages. You will, however, need to prepare for not going to the grocery store for a period of time, so you will need to have food you can prepare at home. Stocking up on frozen foods is a good idea. You do not want to eat out or have food delivered even if that is an option because the people preparing that food may be contagious.
Because your biggest exposure comes from touching contaminated surfaces you will want to have plenty of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and disinfectant spray on hand. Use hand sanitizer after touching any surface in a public place. If someone in your house has been in public, or already has the virus, spray down or wipe all surfaces with disinfectant repeatedly. If you run out of disinfectant spray, wipes, or hand sanitizer click here for a recipe you can easily make at home.
The CDC is advising that wearing a mask is only helpful if you are already infected so that you don’t infect others. However, if you are not infected and you absolutely have to go into a public place wearing the correct type of mask properly will provide you with some protection. Click here for more information about masks.
If you do begin to experience symptoms and your temperature goes above 100.4 the CDC is asking people to call their doctor’s office and get tested for the virus. It is important that they keep track of how many people are infected. For the safety of others, it is important that you do not just show up to your doctor’s office or the emergency room without calling ahead first to let them know that you suspect you may have the virus.
It is important that we all look out for one another and help those who are older get through this safely. If you still have any questions please call me at 480-756-2386 and I will do my best to help.