Your COVID-19 questions answered by doctors

(Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

By Dr. Ritu Sandhu, Biogetica

Yahoo India, in collaboration with Biogetica, has started a special series on COVID-19 as part of which doctors will answer all the coronavirus-related questions sent in by users. Biogetica has a panel of doctors ready to reply to questions around COVID-19 with precise information.

This is the first part. You can access Part 2 here.

Do leave your questions in the Comments section below and follow this space for answers.

Question: Do i need to be tested if I have fever, cough and cold?

Answer: Most cases of COVID-19 are relatively mild and can be treated at home. And as with the flu and the common cold, there is no cure.  When to pursue testing or get professional medical care can be more complicated because it depends on different factors such as whether you’ve likely been exposed, the severity of your symptoms, and your age and underlying health. 

Here is advice on when to reach out for medical care, based on those factors.

You have no symptoms, don’t think you’ve been exposed, and are at low risk. People in this group who are younger than 60 and in good health don’t need to get tested. Instead, simply practice basic infection prevention protocols. 

You have no symptoms but have had contact with someone who has COVID-19. Currently, the CDC does not recommend that you be tested for COVID-19. But check with your local health department to see whether its guidance differs. Monitor your health carefully, and try to avoid public settings—if you can work from home. It’s especially important to stay alert for symptoms if you are older than 60, immunocompromised, or have an underlying medical condition such as asthma.

You have mild to moderate symptoms but are at low risk and are unsure whether you’ve been exposed. If you fit into this group and are younger than 60 with no other medical conditions, you can monitor and treat yourself at home,. Isolate yourself as much as possible, as you would with the flu. You can consider asking your primary care doctor or health department about testing, but it might not be available, depending on where you live. And call your doctor if symptoms worsen.

You have mild to moderate symptoms and are at high risk. If you’re older than 60 or have underlying health problems, contact your health department or doctor to see about getting tested, even if you are unsure whether you’ve been exposed to the virus. 

You have mild to moderate symptoms and know you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Contact your doctor or local public health department to see about getting tested. 

You have severe symptoms: If you have a high fever, a persistent cough that continues to worsen, or shortness of breath that makes it hard to talk, contact a doctor immediately, no matter what your age or risk level.

Question: How can I tell apart COVID-19 from influenza/common cold?

Answer: It can be hard to distinguish among them because some symptoms overlap and others can vary substantially from person to person. Still, each of these infections tends to have certain defining characteristics that may give you some helpful clues. 

Colds. These viral infections typically come on gradually, with runny nose, congestion, sore throat, and cough usually at their worst three or four days after onset. Colds can sometimes also cause headaches, body aches, and fever, but they’re generally milder than those associated with the flu.

Flu. This infection comes on quickly causing high fever, severe body aches, and extreme fatigue. Often, “it has a very sudden, abrupt onset,”. Occasionally, the flu can cause vomiting and diarrhea, but this is more common in children. 

COVID-19. Fever, dry cough, and less often, shortness of breath, are the major tipoffs. According to a World Health Organization analysis of 55,924 patients, people infected with the new virus developed a fever in 88 percent of cases, a dry cough in 68 percent, and shortness of breath in 19 percent. The cough may be persistent, without easing at all throughout the day. People sometimes report being unable to catch their breath or to breathe or talk easily, or may feel out of breath after minor exertion, like walking around the house.

Question: Can an asymptomatic person spread coronavirus?

Answer: Yes, an asymptomatic person can also spread coronavirus.

Question: What should one do if a family member develops fever?

Answer: If a family member develops fever, you can look for other symptoms to distinguish it from COVID-19. Consult with your doctor if someone in your family has a fever, cough, or flu like symptoms. 

Question: When should I see a doctor?

Answer: If you’re older than 60 or have underlying health problems, contact your health department or doctor to see about getting tested, even if you are unsure whether you’ve been exposed to the virus. Contact your doctor or local public health department to see about getting tested if you have mild to moderate symptoms and know you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. If you have a high fever, a persistent cough that continues to worsen, or shortness of breath that makes it hard to talk, contact a doctor immediately, no matter what your age or risk level.

(Dr. Ritu Sandhu, B.H.M.S., Homeopath, graduated From Chandigarh Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, INDIA is a licensed Homeopathy practitioner since the last nineteen years and working as an online medical consultant with Biogetica. She writes on health-related topics to share her cumulative experience.)

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