Harvard researchers have compiled a list of clues to help doctors distinguish between early COVID-19 and other infections with the same symptoms.
Early differentiation is very important in the absence of universal and reliable diagnostic health testing, said lead author Pieter Cohen, MD Based on data from more than 1,000 patients who have visited outpatient clinics for respiratory diseases since March, he and his colleagues have found the following :
- Fever is not a reliable indicator. If anything, it can only manifest with mild increases in temperature.
- COVID-19 can be started with a variety of cough permutations without fever, sore throat, diarrhea, stomach ache, headache, body aches, back pain and fatigue
- It can also occur with severe body aches and fatigue.
- The first reliable clue is the loss of the sense of smell in the first days of illness.
- In serious COVID-19, shortness of breath is an important differentiator from other common diseases.
- Almost no one experiences shortness of breath, the main sign of the disease, on the first or second day of the onset of the disease.
- Shortness of breath can appear four days or more after the onset of other symptoms.
- The first days after shortness of breath begins are critical periods that require close and frequent monitoring of patients with telemedicine visits or direct examinations.
- The most important variable to monitor is how shortness of breath changes over time. Oxygen saturation levels can also be a valuable clue. Oxygen levels in the blood can drop dramatically with energy, even in people who were previously healthy.
- A small number of people may never experience shortness of breath. Conversely, they may have symptoms of low oxygen levels, including dizziness or falls.
- Anxiety is common among patients with viral symptoms showing COVID-19, and anxiety can also cause shortness of breath.
How to distinguish COVID-19 with shortness of breath and anxiety:
- Shortness that is induced by anxiety appears quickly, while shortness of breath COVID-19 tends to develop gradually over several days.
- Patients who are short of breath caused by anxiety often say the sensation occurs during rest or when trying to fall asleep, and the inability to get enough air into their lungs. Conversely, shortness of breath caused by decreased oxygen related to COVID-19 becomes worse with physical activity.
- Breath related to anxiety does not cause a decrease in blood oxygen levels
Full findings will be published at Mayo Clinic Proceedingsand medium currently available as preliminary evidence.
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