Coronavirus – what do you need to know?

Coronavirus - what do you need to know?

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the characteristic symptoms of infection was olfactory impairment, which now occurs less frequently, and the other symptoms of infection, even with new coronavirus variants such as EG.5 (Eris) and omicron BA.2.86 (Pirola), are similar.

Currently, COVID-19 is mild in most patients. They fully recover without the need for hospital treatment. The elderly and those with comorbidities are still at increased risk of severe outcomes if infected.

The most common symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus

Coronavirus infection is asymptomatic or sparsely symptomatic in a large number of patients (85 percent). Patients most often present with symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection.

Among those showing symptoms, the most common are:

  • fever,
  • chills,
  • sore throat,
  • muscle pain,
  • characteristic severe fatigue,
  • runny or blocked nose or sneezing,
  • pain in the eyeballs,
  • headache and dizziness.

Symptoms occurring less frequently:

  • dry, persistent cough,
  • hoarseness,
  • shortness of breath, tightness in the chest
  • nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or diarrhea,
  • loss of appetite
  • skin rash or discoloration of fingers and toes,
  • a tingling sensation in the extremities,
  • loss or disturbance of taste and/or smell,
  • sleep problems.

The easiest way to confirm infection is to perform a rapid antigen test for COVID-19 or other tests (known as a combo) for respiratory tract infections, including COVID-19.

How long do COVID-19 symptoms last?

COVID-19 symptoms can occur 2-14 days after contact with the virus, usually appearing 5-6 days after exposure.

Acute symptoms usually persist for several to several days. In people with long-COVID, symptoms can last at least 12 weeks after infection.

The frequency of individual symptoms has varied with the duration of the pandemic and varies by region and age group.

In more severe cases, the infection can cause bilateral interstitial pneumonia, severe acute respiratory failure, multi-organ failure, sepsis and septic shock, and even death.

Chest imaging studies show signs of atypical (bilateral) pneumonia, with shadowing in the lungs of the so-called „milk glass” type.

First symptoms of coronavirus

What are the first symptoms indicating SARS-CoV-2 infection? COVID-19 infection runs differently in different patients. Some infections are asymptomatic. If this is not the case, the first symptoms of coronavirus appear even 2-3 days after contact with the pathogen.

Since the course of infection varies among patients, there are no characteristic symptoms that can be described as the first to signal the development of COVID-19 disease. Attention should be paid to any symptoms of respiratory tract infection, such as fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, headache. A characteristic symptom of COVID-19 is a disturbance or loss of smell and/or taste, but this is not common.

If you develop any symptoms that might suggest COVID-19, you should contact your doctor via telehealth and, if recommended by your doctor, test for SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Symptoms of coronavirus in children

There are different types of disease presentation depending on the age of the person infected with the virus. Most people infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus have respiratory symptoms. They feel worse, have a fever, and may have a cough, sore throat or sneezing. Some people experience gastrointestinal symptoms. Others may lose their sense of smell or taste.

The symptoms of coronavirus in children tend to be milder than those of adults. Children are more likely to pass the disease asymptomatically. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 in children resemble the common cold, these include:

  • cough,
  • fever (usually around 38 degrees),
  • runny nose,
  • sometimes vomiting and diarrhea,
  • sore throat,
  • weakness.

Your doctor or nurse can check if your child has COVID-19 by performing a rapid antigen test.

To protect yourself and others from SARS-CoV-2:

  • if you feel unwell, stay home
  • get tested if you have symptoms of infection regardless of your vaccination status, especially if you are at high risk of severe disease and therefore may be eligible for drug treatment;
  • wear a protective mask if you have any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19;
  • wear a protective mask in crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated areas and keep a safe distance from others if possible;
  • remember coughing and sneezing hygiene;
  • wash your hands regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based disinfectant;
  • stay up to date on vaccinations, including booster doses.

How does coronavirus infection progress?

About 85 percent of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, resembling other upper respiratory illnesses.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is believed to spread mainly by droplet route between people who are in close contact with each other (within about 1 meter). When an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks, droplets of their saliva or nasal secretions can find their way onto the face (around the mouth, nose or eyes) of people nearby, and from there enter the respiratory tract.

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