What You Should Know about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a novel, or new, respiratory disease that has spread around the world. Events and information regarding COVID-19 are changing rapidly; stay up to date with the latest developments from Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) official website.

What Can I Do to Prevent Exposure to COVID-19?

To help prevent exposure to COVID-19, CDC recommends that you:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.1

Many people also wonder whether they should wear a facemask to help protect against the virus. “CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”2 You can read more details here.

What Are the Symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms are similar to the flu and may appear two to 14 days after exposure, including:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Anecdotal evidence is also rapidly accumulating from sites around the world that anosmia and dysgeusia are significant symptoms associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.3 Anosmia is the loss of smell while dysgeusia is an altered sense of taste. The symptoms are clearly not as common as cough, fever, and shortness of breath, but in the absence of a known cause for the smell disorder, this symptom may be an additional identifier for infected patients. Observation and supportive care are the recommended treatment options at this time. You can read more about this symptom from the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery here.

What Should I Do If I Have Symptoms of COVID-19?

“Call ahead to a healthcare professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread. Tell your healthcare professional about your recent travel or contact. Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.”4 Read more recommendations about what to do if you think you may be sick with COVID-19 here.

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The information on ENThealth.org is provided solely for educational purposes and does not represent medical advice, nor is it a substitute for seeking professional medical care.