Four frequently asked questions about COVID-19
Because COVID-19 is a new virus, we’re constantly learning about it. But what’s fact and what’s fiction? To help, internal medicine hospitalist Erin Harris, MD, shared answers to common questions she’s received.
What are the symptoms?
Most people are aware of the common symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, shortness of breath and coughing. Dr. Harris said some of the less common side effects include:
- Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Sore throat
- Loss of taste and smell
- Conjunctivitis or a reddening of the white portion of the eyes
“We’ve seen some rashes that may be associated with COVID-19, but we haven’t been able to clearly define that yet,” she said.
Why do some people have more severe symptoms than others?
Just like any other infection, it can affect people differently. “People who have underlying diseases such as heart disease, lung disease, those who are immune-compromised from different illnesses – they’re going to be more at risk for developing more severe symptoms. But even a healthy adult can get severe symptoms,” said Dr. Harris.
Some patients have little to no symptoms. “Even if you have no symptoms, you could still be spreading the virus, so it’s very important to take precautions,” she said.
How do you treat COVID-19 symptoms at home?
Dr. Harris said anyone who’s diagnosed with COVID-19 and feels stable enough to stay home can take care of themselves with over-the-counter medications for fever, cough and muscle aches.
“One of the common questions that has come up is if acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) is safer for COVID-19. Initially, when we were learning about the virus, we weren’t sure if ibuprofen was safe to take for COVID-19, but since then we’ve learned a lot more. It’s probably okay to take ibuprofen in moderation, but we would still prefer that you use acetaminophen unless there’s a reason you can’t take it,” she said.
She added it’s also important to drink plenty of fluids like water – not soda or coffee – to make sure that you stay well hydrated, especially if you have GI symptoms that may make you dehydrated more quickly.
And while rest is important, it’s important to get up and walk around several times a day so you don’t get weaker or develop blood clots. “But you need to make sure that you do this in a safe way – in your living environment and not out in public,” she said.
Do you have immunity after you’ve had COVID-19?
“We’re still learning a lot about COVID-19, and while we hope that people get immunity after they’ve had COVID-19, it’s still something that we don’t know the answer to. If you’ve had COVID-19, we want to make sure that you’re still taking extra precautions to protect yourself so you don’t contract it again,” said Dr. Harris.
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