COVID-19, officially named SARS-CoV-2, is an infectious respiratory virus that can be spread from person to person through saliva droplets, respiratory droplets, and nasal discharge, especially with coughing, sneezing, and talking. COVID-19 belongs to a family of coronaviruses, including the common cold, SARS, and MERS. People with weakened immune systems and underlying health problems such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, and chronic respiratory disease are more likely to have a severe case of COVID-19. Smokers are also apt to have a more severe case of COVID-19. Symptoms of COVID-19 typically appear within 2-14 days of exposure to the virus, and an infected individual can be contagious up to 2 days before symptoms appear. Individuals within COVID-19 typically remain contagious for 10-20 days after infection.
COVID-19 infection is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China. Coronaviruses often live in animals but do not affect these animals; however, the infected animals can spread the disease to humans. COVID-19 is spread when an infected individual transmits droplets to another individual through coughing, sneezing, and/or talking, who then inhales the droplets containing the SARS-CoV-2 virus. COVID-19 is an airborne virus, meaning droplets can also linger in the air for minutes or hours after an infected person has been there. COVID-19 can also spread when an individual touches an infected surface and then touches their face, although this is more rare. Risk factors for COVID-19 include being in close contact with an infected individual, living in the same household as an infected individual, and being coughed or sneezed on by an infected individual.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include…
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath
Nasal congestion or runny nose
Loss of taste and/or smell
Nausea or vomiting
Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
Because COVID-19 is such a new disease, there is no cure and few treatment options are available, especially outside of a hospital setting. Mild cases of COVID-19 can be treated with pain medicine such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, cough medicine, rest, and fluid intake. In more severe cases, hospitalization may be required along with supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation. The FDA has given emergency approval to treat COVID-19 with drugs called Remdesivir and Baricitinib but only in hospital settings. Corticosteroids such as Dexamethasone may also be given. Convalescent plasma containing COVID-19 antibodies may also be given to patients in a hospital setting. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 through a throat or nasopharyngeal swab, it is important to self-isolate to avoid spreading the disease to anyone else. It is also important to remember that some individuals can be asymptomatic carriers of the virus.
The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to avoid close contact with other individuals by maintaining a distance of at least 6ft, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, clean and disinfect surfaces daily, wash your hands with soap and water regularly for 40-60 seconds or use an alcohol rub that contains at least 60% alcohol, avoid large groups, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and to stay at home if you feel sick. It is also important to wear a mask or face covering when going out in public. To prevent COVID-19, you may also receive an FDA emergency approved vaccination such as Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, etc. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding smoking is also important in preventing COVID-19.
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Cleveland Clinic. (2020, December 11). Coronavirus, COVID-19. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21214-coronavirus-covid-19.
John Hopkins Medicine. (2021, May 19). What is coronavirus? https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2021, August 4). Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/symptoms-causes/syc-20479963.
World Health Organization. (n.d.). Coronavirus. https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1.