Introduction: SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes the disease COVID-19 is part of a family of viruses called Coronavirus. This is a respiratory disease that can cause a wide range of symptoms. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person when respiratory droplets (from coughing, sneezing, saliva, etc) from an infected person land in the mouths, noses, and eyes of people who are nearby. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another which is why social distancing measures (at least 6 feet) have been in place to reduce the spread of the virus.
Symptoms: The presentation of this illness can range from mild to severe illness. Symptoms appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Some of the commons symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
- Nausea or vomiting
Risk assessment: For most people, symptoms may be mild however the risk of having serious complications from this disease depends on multiple factors. Older adults and people with severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes are at the highest risk of developing serious complications. It is best to seek advice from a medical professional to assess your risk and get guidance on the best course of action.
Testing: Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. Most healthy people with mild illness can monitor their symptoms at home and may not need testing done. It is important however to discuss your symptoms and your risk profile with a medical professional. Speak to a Kingsley Clinic doctor from the comfort of your home by clicking here.
Several testing options are available for COVID-19:
- Test for current infection: Viral tests using PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) tell you if you currently have an infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The time to get results back depends on the laboratory and the specific test being used. It is important to verify that the test being done is FDA approved as many companies have been releasing their own tests during the pandemic. To see if you were previously exposed to the virus and are possibly immune to it, you will need an antibody test rather than a viral PCR test.
- Test for past infection: Antibody blood tests, check your blood for antibodies which are proteins formed by your immune system to help fight off the infection in response to a previous infection with the virus. Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose someone who is currently sick with COVID-19 because the body likely has not had a chance to form antibodies that will be able to be detected by the test. To see if you have a current infection with the virus, you need a viral PCR test (with a respiratory sample from inside your nose) rather than an antibody test.
Treatment: There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. The treatment required for COVID-19 depends on the severity of illness. Mild cases can be managed at home with supportive care. Rest, fluids, and anti-fever medication is essential to control mild symptoms. Worsening symptoms may require consultation with a medical personnel, consider seeing a Kingsley Clinic doctor from the comfort of your home today.
If you have a more severe illness with trouble breathing, you may need to be admitted to the hospital and possibly in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Trials of convalescent plasma and other antiviral medications are ongoing for potential treatment of COVID-19.