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:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

This list is not all possible symptoms. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.3

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.

Warning about Disinfectants, Bleach, and Cleaning Supplies

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a rise in purchase and use of disinfectants, bleach, and other cleaning supplies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on April 20, 20205, a 20 percent increase in calls to Poison Control from the same time period last year related to disinfectant and cleaners. These chemicals, in any form, are for surface cleaning ONLY and should NOT be ingested or injected into the body as an attempt to treat COVID-19. They should be kept away from children and pets. They are hazardous to your health causing pain and irritation in the mouth and throat; pain and possible burns in the esophagus and stomach; vomiting; permanent damage to your gastrointestinal tract and internal organs; and potential death. If accidental ingestion does happen, contact Poison Control immediately at 1-800-222-1222.

Dr. Duane J. Taylor gives an overview of how ENT practices have adapted to provide treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Spencer C. Payne provides an overview of proper testing techniques for COVID-19. 

Related Conditions

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.