Coronavirus (COVID-19): Symptoms, Treatment & More

In early 2020, a new virus began generating headlines all over the world because of the unprecedented speed of its transmission.

Its origins have been traced to a food market in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. From there, its reached countries as distant as the United States and the Philippines.

The virus (officially named SARS-CoV-2) has been responsible for over 100 million infections globally, causing around 2.5 million deaths. The United States is the country most affected.

The disease caused by contracting SARS-CoV-2 is called COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.

Lets bust some myths.

Read on to learn:

Stay informed with our live updates about the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Also, visit our coronavirus hub for more information on how to prepare, advice on prevention and treatment, and expert recommendations.

Doctors and scientists are learning new things about this virus every day. So far, we know that COVID-19 may not cause any symptoms for some people.

You may carry the virus for 2 days or up to 2 weeks before you develop symptoms.

Some common symptoms that have been specifically linked to COVID-19 include:

Less common symptoms include:

However, individuals with COVID-19 may have some, all, or none of the above symptoms.

For instance, fever is often referred to as the most common symptom of COVID-19. However, a July 2020 study of 213 people with mild disease found that only 11.6 percent of them had experienced fever.

Most people with COVID-19 will only have a mild case.

According to the National Institute of Healths COVID-19 treatment guidelines, people are characterized as having a mild case if they:

Mild cases can still have long-lasting effects. People who experience symptoms months after first contracting the virus and after the virus is no longer detectable in their body are referred to as long haulers.

According to a February 2021 research letter in JAMA Network Open, approximately one-third of people with COVID-19 had persistent symptoms as long as 9 months after infection.

A December 2020 literature review estimated that 17 percent of people with COVID-19 are actually asymptomatic. This means they have no symptoms at all.

Twenty percent of people who have COVID-19 and require any sort of senior care services are asymptomatic. The authors evaluated data from 13 studies to come up with their estimates.

A January 2021 literature review looked at 61 studies and reports about COVID-19. The researchers concluded that:

Call emergency medical services if you have or someone you care for has any of the following symptoms:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still investigating the full range of symptoms.

The 2019 coronavirus causes more deaths than the seasonal flu.

According to the CDC, an estimated 0.04 to 0.16 percent of people who developed the flu during the 20192020 flu season in the United States died by April 4, 2020.

In comparison, about 1.80 percent of those with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States have died as of March 2, 2021.

The flu and COVID-19 share many of the same symptoms. Common flu symptoms include:

Coronaviruses are zoonotic. This means they first develop in animals before being transmitted to humans.

For the virus to be transmitted from animals to humans, a person has to come into close contact with an animal that has the infection.

Once the virus develops in people, coronaviruses can be transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets. This is a technical name for the wet stuff that moves through the air when you exhale, cough, sneeze, or talk.

The viral material hangs out in these droplets and can be breathed into the respiratory tract (your windpipe and lungs), where the virus can then lead to an infection.

Its possible that you could acquire SARS-CoV-2 if you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes after touching a surface or object that has the virus on it. However, this is not thought to be the main way that the virus is passed on.

SARS-CoV-2 can also be passed on via airborne transmission of small infectious particles that may linger in the air for minutes to hours.

However, contraction of an infection through close contact with people with SARS-CoV-2 and their respiratory droplets is currently thought to be much more common.

The 2019 coronavirus hasnt been definitively linked to a specific animal.

Researchers believe that the virus may have been passed from bats to another animal either snakes or pangolins and then transmitted to humans.

This transmission likely occurred in the open food market in Wuhan.

Youre at high risk for contracting SARS-CoV-2 if you come into contact with someone whos carrying it, especially if youve been exposed to their saliva or been near them when theyve coughed, sneezed, or talked.

Without taking proper preventive measures, youre also at high risk if you:

Older adults and people with certain health conditions have a higher risk for severe complications if they contract the virus. These health conditions include:

Pregnancy also puts you at a higher risk for complications from COVID-19.

The CDC reports that pregnant women are more likely to experience severe COVID-19 illness than nonpregnant women.

For instance, pregnant women entered the intensive care unit (ICU) at nearly three times the rate of nonpregnant women. Mortality rates for pregnant women are also higher.

According to a study from September 2020, women with COVID-19 are also more likely to have a preterm birth than women without COVID-19.

Transmitting the virus from mother to child during pregnancy isnt likely, but the newborn is able to contract the virus after birth.

COVID-19 can be diagnosed similarly to other conditions caused by viral infections: using a blood, saliva, or tissue sample.

However, most tests use a cotton swab to retrieve a sample from the inside of your nostrils.

Locations that conduct tests include:

Visit the websites of your states health department or the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to find out where testing is offered near you.

On November 17, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its first emergency use authorization (EUA) for a COVID-19 self-testing kit.

The EUA specifies that the test kit is authorized for use by people ages 14 years and older whom healthcare professionals have identified as having suspected COVID-19.

The Lucira COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit is a rapid test, which means that the nasal swab sample doesnt have to be sent off to a lab. The test kit is available by prescription only and promises results within 30 minutes.

Back on April 21, 2020, the FDA authorized the use of the first COVID-19 home collection kit. Its produced by Pixel by LabCorp.

A cotton swab is provided, and people will be able to collect a nasal sample with it and mail it to a designated laboratory for testing.

Its authorized for use by people ages 18 years and older.

In recent months, the FDA has also granted EUAs to additional at-home kits, including ones from Everlywell and QuickVue.

Emergency use authorizations (EUAs) allow for the use of medical products that havent received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA issues EUAs in circumstances where no FDA-approved alternatives are available to help diagnose, treat, or prevent a serious condition.

Talk with your doctor right away if you think you have COVID-19 or you notice symptoms.

Your doctor will advise you on whether you should:

Theres currently no cure for an infection caused by the new coronavirus. However, many treatments and vaccines are currently under study.

On October 22, 2020, the FDA approved its first COVID-19 treatment, the medication remdesivir (Veklury). Its available by prescription to treat COVID-19 in people ages 12 years and older whove been hospitalized. Its administered as an intravenous (IV) infusion.

In November 2020, the FDA also granted EUAs to monoclonal antibody medications.

Monoclonal antibodies are human-made proteins that help the body develop an immune response against foreign-made substances such as viruses.

These medications are:

Like remdesivir, theyre also administered by IV infusion and intended to treat COVID-19 in people ages 12 years and older. These medications are used for outpatient therapy.

The FDA has also issued EUAs to a few other treatments, such as convalescent plasma, that are intended for treatment in people who are hospitalized or at high risk for hospitalization.

Most COVID-19 treatment focuses on managing symptoms as the virus runs its course.

Seek medical help if you think you have COVID-19. Your doctor will recommend treatment for any symptoms or complications that develop and let you know if you need to seek emergency treatment.

Other coronaviruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) are also treated by managing symptoms. In some cases, experimental treatments have been tested to see how effective they are.

Examples of therapies used for these illnesses include:

The most serious complication of COVID-19 is a type of pneumonia thats been called 2019 novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia (NCIP).

Results from a 2020 study of 138 people admitted into hospitals in Wuhan with NCIP found that 26 percent of those admitted had severe cases and needed to be treated in the ICU.

The percentage of people who died from NCIP after being admitted to the hospital was 4.3 percent.

It should be noted that people who were admitted to the ICU were, on average, older and had more underlying health conditions than people who didnt go to the ICU.

NCIP isnt the only complication specifically linked to the 2019 coronavirus.

Researchers have seen the following complications in people who have developed COVID-19:

The best way to prevent the transmission of the virus is to avoid or limit contact with people who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or any respiratory infection.

The next best thing you can do is practice good hygiene and physical distancing to help prevent bacteria and viruses from being transmitted.

Multiple vaccines are in development. Two are currently available to certain groups in the United States (such as older adults and first responders) and are helping to prevent transmission of the virus.

On December 11, 2020, the FDA granted its first EUA for a vaccine. This vaccine was developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. It can be given to people ages 16 years and older.

On December 18, 2020, the FDA granted an EUA to a vaccine developed by Moderna. The Moderna vaccine can be given to people ages 18 years and older.

On February 24, 2021, the FDA announced that a one-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson was effective against severe COVID-19. The FDA granted an EUA on February 27. The vaccine can be given to people ages 18 years and older.

While certain high risk groups and essential workers are eligible to receive the vaccine now, it may be summer 2021 before the vaccine is available to the public at large.

If youre out in a public setting where its difficult to follow physical distancing guidelines, the CDC recommends that you wear a cloth face mask or covering that covers your mouth and nose.

When worn correctly, and by large percentages of the public, these masks can help to slow the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

Thats because they can block the respiratory droplets of people who may be asymptomatic or people who have the virus but have gone undiagnosed.

You can make your own mask using basic materials such as a bandana, a T-shirt, or cotton fabric.

Cloth masks are preferred for the general public since other types of masks should be reserved for healthcare workers.

Its critical to keep the mask or covering clean. Wash it after each time you use it. Avoid touching the front of it with your hands. Also, try to avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes when you remove it.

This helps prevent you from possibly transferring the virus from a mask to your hands and from your hands to your face.

Keep in mind that wearing a face mask or covering isnt a replacement for other preventive measures, such as frequent handwashing and practicing physical distancing. All of them are important.

Certain people shouldnt wear face masks, including:

A coronavirus gets its name from the way it looks under a microscope.

The word corona means crown.

When examined closely, the round virus has a crown of proteins called peplomers jutting out from its center in every direction. These proteins help the virus identify whether it can infect its host.

The condition known as SARS was also linked to a highly infectious coronavirus back in the early 2000s.

This isnt the first time a coronavirus has made news. The 2003 SARS outbreak was also caused by a coronavirus.

As with the 2019 virus, the SARS virus was first found in animals before it was transmitted to humans.

The SARS virus is thought to have come from bats and was transferred to another animal and then to humans. Once transmitted to humans, the SARS virus began spreading quickly among people.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Symptoms, Treatment & More

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