Do I Have Covid-19: Short Manual for People with Symptoms
Do I Have Covid-19: Short Manual for People with Symptoms
About 200,000 people in Bulgaria have been infected with Covid-19 since the beginning of the epidemic, according to official data from the information system of the Ministry of Health. Although patients, their relatives and institutions have been gaining experience in dealing with COVID-19 for nine months now, official summary information with the most common questions about the disease and their answers is missing, except for a few videos posted on the official website about the Coronavirus.
Dnevnik gathered some of the information that can be found through official and informal sources and which can serve as a guide to non-specialists in case of suspected infection.
The explanations offered here come from documents of Bulgarian and foreign institutions, from media appearances of doctors and scientists, as well as summaries of treatment manuals published on social networks in other countries and observations of medics who have already encountered the disease.
Despite the information gathered, in case of doubts and concerns over COVID-19, the key advice is to seek consultation with a doctor - general practitioner or specialist, and to avoid self-medication.
Symptoms that warn of COVID-19
The World Health Organization (WHO) lists a number of symptoms of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (the virus causing COVID-19), many of which are supplemented in the course of the pandemic development of and knowledge of the disease. The most common symptoms are:
- high temperature; dry cough; tiredness.
Other symptoms that are less common and may occur in some patients are: loss of taste or sense of smell, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis (also known as redness of the eyes), sore throat, headache, muscle or joint pain, various types of skin rashes, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, colds and dizziness.
A Facebook post gives some more specific criteria with the explanation that they are based on recommendations of the Association of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology of the Kingdom of Sweden and observations of medics in the country. The author, Georgi Draganov, points out that he is a practitioner in Sweden and has gathered information that could help his Bulgarian colleagues. According to the data indicated by him, the symptoms observed in the country according to healthcare professionals he contacted are:
1. High temperature (up to 40 degrees) in 60 to 99% of patients.
2. Fatigue - in 70% of patients.
3. Dry cough - at 59%.
4. Loss of appetite - at 40%.
5. Muscle pain - at 35%.
6. Shortness of breath - at 31%.
7. Cough with sputum - at 27%.
8. Diarrhea, loss of appetite and sense of smell, heart complications.
An online test is available in Bulgaria from spring, which can guide people with suspicion of infection as to whether they are in the risk group and how they should react. It was developed by Dr. Ivan-Asen Shishmanov, a doctor in the cardiology clinic of Pirogov emergency hospital, and is agreed with the head of the clinic and other specialists from the hospital, as well as with the recommendations of WHO.
How long does it take to develop symptoms?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it takes on average between five and six daysfrom the moment of infection with SARS-CoV-2 to the appearance of symptoms, but time may vary between one and fourteen days. Therefore, WHO insists that the infected should stay at home and away from other people for 14 days to prevent the spread of the virus, especially when testing is not readily available.
The Robert Koch Institute in Germany recommends that people with mild complaints, who for one reason or another cannot be tested, should be treated for at least five days at home. Additionally, they should be 48 hours without symptoms before having contact with other people. Thus, if these "unrecognized patients" are infected with COVID-19, it largely reduces the possibility of infecting others. If complaints increase, then the Robert Koch Institute also advises a person to contact their GP.
How can COVID-19 be distinguished from flu?
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO stress that the symptoms are similar and it is difficult to determine which infection we haveonly on their basis.
To find out whether it's flu or a virus, the CDC recommends making a test. There is a combined test for coronavirus and flu in Bulgaria, but the patients should contact their GP and ask for referral.
In this context, in a Q&A Cornavirus summary of Harvard University it says that an attending physician should doubt about coronavirus if the patient has:
- respiratory symptoms
- has had contact with someone who is believed to have Covid-19
- or there are infected with the virus around the patient
Testing - when and with what test to make?
The PCR, considered the most reliable method, is used to detect coronavirus infection in Bulgaria and the world.
According to WHO, these tests are most effective during active infection, that is, a few days after infection and in the period when symptoms begin to manifest. There is no point in doing a test a day after you have communicated with a person who has developed symptoms - even if you are infected, the study will not be able to establish this, and the result will be falsely negative. You need to wait at least three or four days. Despite the high degree of reliability, in this teast there are some conditionalities in different cases.
The results of the PCR test come out in about a day and upon confirmation the infected is subjected to mandatory isolation for 14 days.
The other type of research often done is antigen tests. Their results become known in about 20 minutes, but are less accurate than those of the PCR test. Therefore, the health authorities in Bulgaria require a positive antigen test to be confirmed with a PCR. It is similar to the requirement of the authorities in Germany.
A key detail of this test is that it becomes positive between the third and eighth days after infection and is credible by the middle of the second week after the onset of symptoms, explained Prof. Dr. Radka Argirova, virologist in a clinical laboratory of "Acibadem City Clinic Hospital Tokuda".
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