How are doctors treating the Corona Virus-infected patients?
by Marisabelle Bonnici
COVID-19 is a viral infection which is caused by the newly identified coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. It has been found in multiple locations across the world and has caused multiple deaths across all continents.
The human coronaviruses are strains of viruses which are common throughout the world and usually cause mild to moderate illness in people.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms of coronavirus may appear in between two to fourteen days after exposure to the virus. These symptoms include:
· Shortness of breath
Patients have reported a range of mild symptoms to severe illness and also death.
How are the people infected with corona virus being treated?
It is important to stay in isolation and call the emergency helpline if you feel any symptoms of coronavirus. With patients where symptoms are not severe doctors are making sure patients are well hydrated, have adequate oxygen supply and have their fever under control with appropriate medication.
A paper was published last month in the British medical journal the Lancet by a team of doctors working at the centre of the outbreak. This journal is the first study to characterize the clinical course, treatment and mortality of a group of critically ill patients infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and suffering from Covid – 19 infection.
The report is highly valuable to doctors around the world because it details the course of the disease in critically ill patients.
The authors of this paper have detailed all the life-threatening symptoms and what medication patients were given to fight the viral infection.
For those patients who were infected with SARS -CoV-2 and became critically ill with pneumonia and entered their ICU, the doctors recorded "high" numbers of fatalities. Unfortunately, most died within seven days of being admitted to the ICU.
Like the doctors in China, health-care workers in South Korea and Italy are seeing their ICUs filling with critically sick patients. In a hospital in northern Italy 102 patients out of 120 people admitted with the virus also developed pneumonia.
To date there are no targeted vaccines or medications for the new virus — and so doctors and nurses in the ICUs are left to administer drugs and oxygen and keeping patients well hydrated using IV methods to keep patients alive long enough for their bodies to fight the infection.
As the virus attacks the lungs, it becomes harder and harder for patients to get enough oxygen into their bloodstream to support their kidneys, liver and heart.
In the worst cases in China, the viral pneumonia led to acute respiratory distress syndrome which is the leading cause of death.
Out of the 52 patients with pneumonia in the Lancet paper, the majority had to be given oxygen treatment, 37 of these patients were also put on mechanical ventilators. These patients needed to be given highly concentrated oxygen — the kind a patient may breathe through a tube leading to the nostrils.
It is however important to note that 80% of the people infected had only mild symptoms and the recovery period was three to six weeks for full recovery.
When it comes to severely ill patients, doctors have also used antibiotics to fight secondary infections and antivirals, as well as steroids which reduce inflammation in the lungs.
The study also found that those who died were older and had preexisting conditions such as cardiovascular disease, uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic respiratory diseases and cancer.
So, our advice here is for us all to keep as calm as possible, as anxiety can weaken the immune system as well. Patients with a well-functioning immunity are recovering from infection. Respect the government's directives for quarantine and practice proper hygiene in our homes and also when outside in public places. Eat a well-balanced diet and keep hydrated and avoid alcohol and smoking, all these are measures that can help boost your immune system.
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