4 Things Everyone Should Know About the Coronavirus

COVID-19 is the third known zoonotic coronavirus disease, the previous two were SARS and MERS [1]. There is a flurry of research to understand the mechanisms of infection and transmission. Here is what we know:

Should I Take Anti-Inflammatory Medicine?

There have been some conflicting reports relating to the use of anti-inflammatory medicines in the treatment for the COVID-19. For those that are able to use paracetamol to alleviate symptoms, it is certainly wise to do so. The reason there is a question mark hanging over the use of drugs such as ibuprofen is due to their effect on the immune system. Anti-inflammatory medicines, suppress the immune system which may be necessary to moderate the immune response [2]. It may in some cases, have a negative impact on the body’s ability to respond appropriately to infection.

We Know How to Avoid COVID-19, But What Happens If I Get It?

There are currently no specified treatments to prevent COVID-19, although much work is being performed globally. Antibiotics, are prescribed for a bacterial infection and will not help with a viral infection and should not be sought. If symptoms transition into a bacterial infection, such as pneumonia antibiotics may be prescribed.

It is important that dehydration is prevented, take on plenty of fluids to reduce the risk. Stay hydrated despite how unwell you may feel, small sips during regular intervals may help.

A fever is a natural response to an infection and is the body’s natural way of fighting [3], but can become uncontrolled. Medications such as paracetamol can be taken to reduce a fever and the symptoms associated with it.

COVID-19 affects the respiratory tract [1]and in more severe cases, oxygen may need to be administered to assist with the appropriate supply of oxygen to cells.

What Is Meant By Those ‘At Risk’?

At-risk persons are usually those that are already immunocompromised, in addition to the very young and the elderly. Immunocompromised include patients having chemotherapy treatment for cancer, patients having undergone organ transplantation and/or patients with existing lung disease such as COPD of cystic fibrosis. Furthermore, the response to infections decreases with age and therefore, elderly persons, with underlying health conditions may be considered at risk. Conversely, young patients are still developing their immune systems and may be more susceptible to symptoms and pregnant women are also considered at risk.

Can I Catch COVID-19 Twice?

When exposed to an infection, such as a virus, the body will develop immunity against repeated infections. In principle, our immune cells will recognise components and fight repeat infections rapidly. This rapid response will mean that you may not be aware of infection, as the body will fight it appropriately. It does not mean that you will not pick up the same infection twice, rather you will be better prepared for subsequent infections.

There are conflicting reports regarding COVID-19 and when the infection is under control, more detailed data will be available for analysis. What may appear problematic for one cohort of people, may be less so for another. The guidelines issued by the government are based on the most available date and should be adhered to unless informed otherwise.

References

  1. Sun, P., et al., Understanding of COVID-19 based on current evidence. J Med Virol, 2020.
  2. Coutinho, A.E. and K.E. Chapman, The anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects of glucocorticoids, recent developments and mechanistic insights. Molecular and cellular endocrinology, 2011. 335(1): p. 2-13.
  3. Evans, S.S., E.A. Repasky, and D.T. Fisher, Fever and the thermal regulation of immunity: the immune system feels the heat. Nat Rev Immunol, 2015. 15(6): p. 335-49.

Dr Tracey Evans holds a PhD in Neuroscience, MSc in Molecular Neuroscience and BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Sciences. Working in medical research and as a scientific writer for Fitness Savvy, Dr Evans is passionate about health and mental well-being and has spent several years working as a fitness manager and personal trainer.

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