What coronavirus symptoms are, and when to seek help

A CNN article (read it here) seeks to provide reliable advice about how to identify a coronavirus infection and what to do in that case.

Doctors believe symptoms typically begin to appear from 2 to 14 days after exposure. “‘We’re emphasizing fever plus a notable lower respiratory tract symptom — cough or trouble breathing,’ said infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventative medicine and infectious disease at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.” CNN says, “Being able to identify those symptoms and act upon them when necessary is critical. Here’s what you need to know.”

Fever is a key symptom, experts say. Don’t fixate on a number, but know it’s really not a fever until your temperature reaches at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 degrees Celsius) for children and adults … ‘99.0 degrees or 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit is not a fever.’ … When you check for fever, don’t rely on a temperature taken in the morning. Instead take your temp in the late afternoon and early evening.”

Coughing is another key symptom, but it’s not just any cough …. It should be a dry cough that you feel in your chest. ‘It’s not a tickle in your throat. You’re not just clearing your throat. It’s not just irritated. You’re not putting anything out, you’re not coughing anything up …. The cough is … coming from your breastbone or sternum, and … your bronchial tubes are inflamed or irritated ….’

Shortness of breath can be a third — and very serious — manifestation of Covid-19, and it can occur on its own, without a cough. If your chest becomes tight or you begin to feel as if you cannot breathe deeply enough to get a good breath, that’s a sign to act, experts say. ‘If there’s any shortness of breath immediately call your health care provider, a local urgent care or the emergency department,’ said American Medical Association president Dr. Patrice Harris. ‘If the shortness of breath is severe enough, you should call 911 ….’
Chest pain. “In addition to difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, the CDC lists emergency warning signs for Covid-19 as a ‘persistent pain or pressure in the chest,’ ‘bluish lips or face’ — which indicates a lack of oxygen — and any sudden mental confusion or lethargy and inability to rouse. Get medical attention immediately, the CDC says.”
Travel to infected area. “A history of travel to an area where the novel coronavirus is widespread (and those parts of the world, including the US, are going up each day) is obviously another key factor in deciding if your symptoms may be Covid-19 or not.”
Differentiating from flu or cold. “Many other symptoms [of Covid-19] can resemble the flu, including headaches, digestive issues, body aches and fatigue, which can be severe. Still other symptoms can resemble a cold or allergies, such as a runny nose, sore throat and sneezing. Most likely, experts say, you simply have a cold or the flu — after all they can cause fever and cough too. One possible sign that you might have Covid-19 is if your symptoms, especially shortness of breath, don’t improve after a week or so but actually worsen.”
Persons at higher risk. Even if you’re young, you’re at greater risk if you have underlying health issues, “such as diabetes, chronic lung disease or asthma, heart failure or heart disease, sickle cell anemia, cancer (or are undergoing chemotherapy), kidney disease with dialysis, a body mass index (BMI) over 40 (extremely obese) or an autoimmune disorder. ‘Older patients and individuals who have underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their physician early in the course of even mild illness,’ the CDC advises.”
What you should do. “If you have no symptoms, please do not ask for testing or add to backlog of calls at testing centers, clinics, hospitals and the like, experts say. … However, we are emphasizing that people who have this small cluster of important symptoms — fever and anything related to the lower respiratory tract such as cough and difficulty breathing — reach out to be evaluated.”
If you have cold or flu symptoms: “‘At this moment, the current guidance — and this may change — is that if you have symptoms that are similar to the cold and the flu and these are mild symptoms to moderate symptoms, stay at home and try to manage them with rest, hydration and the use of Tylenol,’ Harris said. That advice does not apply if you are over age 60 … or if you are pregnant — [and] anyone with concerns about coronavirus should call their healthcare provider, according to the CDC.”

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