Doctor provides COVID-19 update
It is caused by a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that was first described in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and is now a global pandemic. Most affected will have milder illness (80 percent), 15 percent will have severe illness (most often respiratory failure), and 5 percent will require Intensive Care Unit intervention.
Symptoms include fever, fatigue, dry cough, muscle aches, shortness of breath, lack of appetite, upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea (sometimes before any respiratory symptoms); and lack of or decreased smell and taste; and less commonly sore throat and headache.
Patients who have older age and other comorbid medical issues, such as heart disease, chronic lung disease, cancer, chronic kidney disease, hypertension, diabetes and immunocompromised have higher risk of more severe illness and death. Pregnant women do not appear to be at higher risk for severe disease.
The virus is highly contagious and is spread via direct contact, respiratory droplets and airborne routes as far as 15 feet away.
Social distancing is key to not getting coronavirus and controlling its spread. Wear a facemask covering your mouth and nose if in public.
If you have any symptoms above, call your primary care provider or use a telemedicine service (e.g., Teladoc, MDLIVE, or Doctor On Demand). Most medical insurance companies provide one of these telemedicine services for their patients. They can help arrange COVID-19 testing if it’s indicated.
If your provider determines it is safe for you to stay home, here are 10 ways to manage your respiratory symptoms at home: 1) Stay home from work, school and public places, shopping or transportation; 2) Monitor your symptoms – call your provider if symptoms worsen; 3) Rest and hydrate; 4) If you have a medical appointment, call them ahead of time and tell them you have or may have COVID-19; 5) If you have a medical emergency (trouble breathing, chest pain, new confusion or inability to arouse, bluish lips or face), notify 911 dispatch personnel that you have or may have COVID-19; 6) Cover your cough and sneezes; 7) Wash hands with soap and water at least 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; 8) Stay in a specific room away from other people in your home, use a separate bathroom, wear a facemask; 9) Avoid sharing personal items (dishes, towels, bedding); 10) Clean all surfaces (counters, tabletops, doorknobs, computers, toys).
You can leave home after three things have happened: 1) you have had no fever with no fever-reducing medication for 72 hours; 2) cough, shortness of breath and symptoms have improved; and 3) at least seven days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
Dr. Blain is a board-certified Poway family physician and board member of the California Prostate Cancer Coalition with 24 years of medical experience, both in the community and with the military. He provides office and telemedicine care for COVID patients and all medical issues. He lives in Poway with his wife, four sons, two dogs, two cats and a Lion Head rabbit. When not coaching youth basketball, soccer and running, he runs ultra-marathons and enjoys open water swimming.