Coughing and hoarseness? According to Maryland doctors, mild COVID is still COVID. – Baltimore Sun

When President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19, he reported a runny nose, fatigue and a dry cough — “mild” symptoms that are common at this stage of the pandemic and that doctors worry people might ignore. in a great deal.

“How often do you or your child go through life with a runny nose?” said Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, a pulmonologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a critical care physician who has been treating COVID-19 patients.

“You dismiss it as an allergy and pass it on to others,” he said. “Someone in President Biden’s circle may have had a sore throat and thought nothing of it. My request to everyone is diligence.”

The country is facing another wave of cases, but most people are not seriously ill, and Galiatsatos and others who treat or study COVID-19 worry that many infections are being treated like allergies or a minor cold. wants to go to work or rest.

Even those worried about the coronavirus may question when they should get tested or stay home, and rapid tests that miss infections can add to the confusion.

Doctors say the infections can make people sick and uncomfortable and put vulnerable people in society at risk. They may also provide more opportunities for the virus to thrive.

The official number of cases in Maryland is well below the peak of the pandemic in January. But they began to rise again in April, with more than 1,700 infections reported by the Maryland Department of Health on Friday. This can happen in large numbers because people either don’t test or test at home and don’t report the results. On Friday, 574 people were hospitalized, and about 50 adults and children are in intensive care.

The good news, experts say, is that vaccines, boosters and past infections are still working to protect people from severe disease. The dominant variant is BA.5, but it is highly transmissible and many vaccinated individuals are reinfected or infected for the first time. Biden received two vaccinations before becoming ill last week.

Symptoms were largely consistent through the pandemic, with people experiencing sore throats, coughs, congestion, and then fever, aches, and shortness of breath. Some people experience heart palpitations, dizziness, or stomach problems. Fewer people report loss of smell and taste from the latter options.

“No one should think they have a cold and not COVID,” said Dr. David Marcozzi, incident commander for the University of Maryland Medical System’s 13-hospital COVID-19 response and the government’s medical advisor on COVID. Larry Hogan.

“If you’re smelly, have a fever and a sore throat, you should get tested to make sure it’s not COVID,” he said. “Test early and often.”

At-home rapid tests are recommended three to five days after exposure. If symptoms are still negative, get tested again, or even a third time, or get an accurate PCR test at a lab. If you have symptoms, assume you have COVID-19 and wear an appropriate mask and stay away until symptoms subside, Marcozzi said.

Marcozzi said there have been more cases this summer than last year, but in the warmer months people stay outside in safer places. This shows the penetration potential of the BA.5 and the fact that people can lower their defenses too low.

It puts vulnerable people at risk; Most of those admitted to the hospital are over 60 or have health conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes or cancer. Maryland reports multiple deaths from COVID-19 in one day.

The profile of hospitalizations is similar at Carroll Hospital in Westminster, Dr. Mark Goldstein, an emergency room physician, however, said the numbers have decreased since January. Carroll County Hospital has five COVID-19 patients, compared to 70 at its peak.

Patients now have fewer respiratory symptoms. They suffer from dehydration, which can lead to nausea, pain and poor appetite, kidney failure and other problems. This is an increased problem in the elderly and people with chronic illnesses.

But he warned that the infection increases a person’s risk of a variety of related problems, including sudden death from a heart attack or stroke.

“The pain is still unpleasant,” Goldstein said. “It’s not something you want to get. There is also a burden here in terms of personnel. We always have people with COVID.”

He says the antiviral drug Paxlovid can help stop the serious illness. He signed up for Biden, who is 79 years old and at high risk.

Goldstein said the drug comes with side effects and should not be taken with certain medications. Therefore, people should consult with their doctor before they get sick and make a treatment plan. If they need it, Maryland offers it in pharmacies under a “trial-to-treat” program.

Goldstein noted that an antiviral is different than a flu shot, and a bigger flu season is expected this fall with multiple cases after two seasons. He says that makes testing more important. The hospital has a test that differentiates between flu, COVID-19 and RSV, a common respiratory virus in children.

Galiatsatos, also a physician at Hopkins’ post-COVID-19 clinic, has been holding regular sessions with the public to answer questions and advise on the coronavirus. He found that a typical case of BA.5 begins with a runny nose and sore throat. A fever may last a day or two, while sinus headaches and congestion may last longer. A prolonged cough with lots of “gunk” is also common. Gastrointestinal diseases are more common in children.

“The key is to keep the airway open,” Galiatsatos said, which may include using an asthma inhaler. “Avoid using cough suppressants, unless you say the Zoom sentence or something, the lungs want to expel it, so the phlegm comes back up.”

Ideally, people should stay home from work or school and rest until symptoms disappear and rapid tests are negative, but he said people whose symptoms have subsided and are not taking care of them can go to the grocery store to find a good fit. mask.

Call your doctor or go to the emergency room with trouble breathing, extreme dehydration or other serious symptoms, she said.

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Long-term management of COVID-19 is more difficult, usually on a case-by-case basis, said Dr. Andrea Levine, MD, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, MD, directs the post-Covid-19 clinic.

“People aren’t getting the virus right now, which is good, but a lot of people are getting it and getting it again,” he said. “Each subsequent infection increases the chance of ongoing symptoms. It’s not a good strategy if you refuse to take it over and over again.”

The vaccine appears to offer some long-lasting protection from COVID, he said, meaning fewer people will develop the current conditions compared to the pandemic. The number of infections is still high, which means it’s COVID-19. Research shows it’s more common in women and older people, but it’s unclear who gets it.

Chronic COVID symptoms range from annoying to life-threatening. Levin treats a nurse who used to be on her feet all day, but now she can call in telemedicine while lying down. Some people have really fast heart rates and eventually need implantable heart monitors. Most of them are tired and suffer from “brain fog”. Others experience hair loss that makes them unable to go on their daily jogs or become dizzy and unable to work.

He said research is underway to better understand the range of conditions and how to treat them.

“Every exposure is Russian roulette,” he said. “You can get sick and have long-lasting COVID.”

Protection, he said: get vaccinated, get stronger and wear a mask.

to write

This article is written by Dr. Mark Goldstein’s affiliation with Carroll Hospital, Westminster. Sun regrets the mistake.

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