COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is a new disease that’s incredibly contagious and causes a range of problems, from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Medical experts are working at a rapid pace to learn more about how to prevent and treat COVID-19. Supertooth in Bethesda, Germantown, Gaithersburg, and Germantown, stays up to date with the latest information and advances, ensuring their patients have access to the best preventive measures and exceptional care.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a new disease caused by a type of coronavirus that first appeared in humans at the end of 2019. This novel coronavirus causes several challenging problems because it has some unusual characteristics.
Spreads without symptoms
Most viral infections are contagious in the day or two before your symptoms appear and while you have symptoms. By comparison, you can spread COVID-19 when you don’t have symptoms and even if you never feel sick.
Affects more than the respiratory tract
There are many coronaviruses that cause upper respiratory tract infections. But although COVID-19 affects the respiratory system in many people, it has other targets, too. It can directly infect your heart, cause blood clots, and create bodywide inflammation that affects many organs.
Causes long-lasting symptoms
It’s estimated that 50-80% of patients still struggle with symptoms for months after they recover from COVID-19 and test negative for the virus.
What symptoms will I have with COVID-19?
Based on the most current information, about 20% of people who become infected with COVID-19 don’t develop symptoms. For the rest, symptoms typically appear 2-14 days after they’re exposed to the virus.
You can develop any of the following symptoms:
- Dry cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of smell
- Loss of taste
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Skin rash
- Discoloration of fingers and toes
- Changes in vision
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
If you have trouble breathing, develop chest pain, become confused, or your lips or face appear blue, you should immediately seek emergency medical care.
How does COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 is more contagious than the yearly flu. The virus primarily spreads through the droplets of moisture that leave your nose and mouth when you cough, sneeze, talk, breathe, laugh, yell, sing, or exercise.
If you inhale infected droplets, or fresh droplets get on your hands and then you touch your face, COVID-19 gets into your body.
In most cases, you need to be within six feet of another person to catch COVID-19. But it’s important to know that the way the virus spreads is still being studied.
Some airborne droplets can linger in the air or travel farther than six feet, depending on the force with which the droplets are exhaled. If you’re in an enclosed space with poor circulation, it’s possible to pick up the infection even if you’re more than six feet away.
Can I get COVID-19 by touching items?
COVID-19 survives on surfaces but only for a short time. The risk of picking up the virus by touching items is low, but it is possible. It could happen if you touch a freshly infected object and then use the same hand to touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.
How can I protect myself from COVID-19?
There are several steps you can take to protect yourself from COVID-19:
Wear a mask
Studies show that wearing a multi-layer cloth mask that covers your nose and mouth significantly reduces the droplets you inhale and stops those you exhale. Wearing a mask helps protect you from getting COVID-19, and also ensures you don’t spread the virus to others.
Practice social distancing
You can limit your exposure to the virus by staying at least six feet from other people.
Wash your hands
Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds does a great job of eliminating any viruses. You can use a hand sanitizer when you’re not near soap and water. If you use a sanitizer, be sure it contains at least 60% alcohol.
Now that COVID-19 vaccinations are rolling out, the best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated. Check with your local or state health department to learn where you can receive the vaccine.
Since COVID-19 shots are so new, medical experts are still studying whether you can spread the virus after getting vaccinated. For this reason, everyone should keep wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
Do children get COVID-19?
Children can become infected with the virus, but they usually have mild symptoms or don’t get sick. Some children develop a complication associated with COVID-19 called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C).
MIS-C is a serious condition that needs immediate medical attention. It typically causes symptoms such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Neck pain
- Bloodshot eyes
To learn more about COVID-19, please refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.