Questions and Answers on Coronavirus Infection and the COVID-19 Pandemic
(My Preventive Health LLC for Gastroenterology And Nutrition Clinics PC)
1. Question: What is Coronavirus?
Answer: Corona virus is an RNA virus that normally lives in bats. Is a member of the SARS family of viruses, that cause Severe Acute Respiratory distress Syndrome or “SARS”.
2. How does the Corona Virus enter my body and cause damage?
Answer: As far as we know, the Corona virus enters the body when it comes in contact with the delicate cells that line the insides of the nose, mouth and throat, and the surface of the eyes. The virus attaches to specialized particles on the surface cell called ACE-2 receptors. Once the virus gets inside the cell, it multiplies and causes damage to the cell walls, especially the cell walls of the blood vessels in the heart and the lungs. This damage can markedly reduce the ability of the heart and lungs to function, resulting in lung failure [and the need for a respirator] and heart failure, among other things.
3. Question: What are the early symptoms of coronavirus infection? How would I know if I had it?
Answer: the early symptoms of coronavirus infection can be fairly nonspecific. Coronavirus may presents as a common cold with mild fever and sinus infection, for two weeks or more before more serious symptoms develop. This long “incubation period” of two weeks or more makes this virus particularly dangerous, since the infected person can spread the virus to tens, or hundreds of other persons during this period. Other symptoms may include mild abdominal pain and diarrhea, weakness, and a loss of taste for your food.
4. Question: What do you mean by a coronavirus “pandemic”?
Answer: The term “Pandemic” is used to describe a serious infection or illness that spreads rapidly around the world. As in the case of coronavirus, pandemics may present suddenly in one part of the world, and spread rapidly to other parts of the world, despite efforts to contain the infection or illness. The last known global pandemic was the “Spanish flu” of 1918. The “Spanish flu” killed approximately one out of every three persons living on the earth.
To give you some perspective on the danger that this pandemic posed, at its height, the coronavirus pandemic was killing the equivalent of three jet planes filled with patients every day in New York and in Spain.
5. Question: I have inflammatory bowel disease and take corticosteroids from time to time. Does this put me at increased risk?
Answer: Yes. Your inflammatory bowel disease may place you at increased risk for a poor outcome if you develop a coronavirus infection. The data on corticosteroids are mixed. Some scientists suggest discontinuing corticosteroids if you develop a coronavirus infection, because there is some evidence that corticosteroids can cause viral infections in the body to flare. Other scientists are not so sure. If you develop a coronavirus infection, and have to be admitted to a hospital, you should certainly inform your admitting physician that you are taking corticosteroids.
6. Question: I currently take a “biologic” to manage my inflammatory bowel disease. Am I at increased risk for complications from coronavirus infection?
Answer: Yes. Your inflammatory bowel disease is considered a ‘comorbidity’ and may place you at increased risk for a poor outcome if you develop a coronavirus infection. I’m not aware that there any studies at the present time that show that Biologic medications by themselves represent an increased risk for adverse events if you develop coronavirus infection
7. Question: If I’m an immuno-compromised patient and/ or I’m currently receiving treatment for cancer, am I at increased risk for coronavirus infection?
Answer: Yes. ‘Cancer’ and an ‘immuno-compromised status’ are considered to be comorbidities. Patients that are immuno-compromised, cancer patients, and patients that are receiving treatment for cancer may be at increased risk for complications and poor outcomes, if they contract a coronavirus infection.
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