My patients have been concerned lately that they have Covid. It is important to remember that this is the time of year that we begin to transition from being outside or inside with the windows open to being inside in an enclosed house. This environment make is easier for the spread of viruses and being exposed to higher levels of allergens (dust, for instance).
So let’s start with some basic rules to be less likely to come into contact with the virus. The first step is to wash your hands. I know everyone says this but what you don’t hear is how. You might have heard, “sing happy birthday” while soaping up, but why? We need you to wash long enough for it to have an impact on these viruses. You need to soap up for at least 15-20 seconds for washing to be effective. Here is the most important tip – vigorously rub your hands together and make sure all surfaces of your hands are cleaned. It is the friction that pulls the bacteria and viruses up off the skin so that when you run your hands under the water the bacteria and viruses go down the drain.
Many people use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer is good for when you are out and have no access to washing your hands with soap and water. However when you get to your destination or home, we want you to wash your hands. Although you put hand sanitizer on, the bacteria or virus is still present on your hands until you wash them down the drain. They may still be able to get you sick. This is why you should not touch your face or rub your eyes- the bacteria/virus can enter through your nose or mouth. It is mot important to wash your hands before every meal. Once a bacteria/virus gets into your digestive system it can wreak havoc.
You have done everything to not get sick, but it still happens. Now what? Is it Covid? Here are some common signs and symptoms to help you identify what might be going on.
|Cough||Mild to Moderate||Common||Sometimes|
|Runny Nose||Rare||In More Serious Infection||Common|
Source: CDC, WHO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, America College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Our Lady of The Lake/blog/ Making Sense of Symptoms. https://ololrmc.com/blogs/making-sense-of-symptoms
This chart is only a guide and is not meant to replace your providers advise. The most important step is being tested for the Covid virus if you have symptoms or think you have been exposed. Early treatments for Covid are now available and are proven to be effective in reducing hospitalizations and death. If you do test positive your provider can follow your condition and give treatment early, as necessary,
If you test negative, you may just have a cold or allergies. Your provider can help determine what you have. If it is allergies, they may suggest an antihistamine. For cold, symptoms are treated symptomatically. Remember, a cold will last 3-7 days, so if you are sick for more than a week, you should consider taking a second Covid test.
As always, if you have questions or concerns about your condition, call your healthcare partners for the next step to take. Stay healthy and have a happy holiday season.