- COVID-19 infection
This page was last updated on 6/28/2023 at 10:42 AM
Throughout the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, LVHN has served as the region’s trusted partner in COVID-19 prevention, detection and care.
If you are experiencing symptoms of or have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you can rest assured that we are here to support you every step of the way.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a very contagious and fast-spreading condition caused by the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. While most people with COVID-19 only experience mild respiratory symptoms (similar to a cold or flu), others become severely or deathly ill. Since it was first identified in 2019, COVID-19 has taken the lives of over 1 million Americans. It’s still important to be aware of symptoms and know what to do if you have COVID.
Symptoms of COVID-19 appear 3-4 days after you’ve been exposed to the virus. The most common symptoms include:
- Fever or chills
- Muscle or body aches
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Runny nose or congestion
While most individuals will only experience mild symptoms of COVID-19, some will develop severe symptoms, including:
- Change in mental status (such as confusion)
- Extreme sleepiness, trouble waking up or difficulty staying awake
- Pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nail beds
- Persistent chest pain or pressure
- Persistent or worsening cough
- Persistent or worsening difficulty breathing
- Persistent or worsening fever
- Shortness of breath while resting
If you are experiencing any of the urgent symptoms above, call 911 or go to your closest emergency room.
COVID-19 risk factors
Some people are more at risk for developing severe COVID-19 than others. Some conditions and factors that may put you at higher risk include:
- Being a current or former smoker
- Being age 50 or older
- Being overweight or obese
- Being pregnant
- Having a weakened immune system/being immunocompromised
- Having undergone a solid organ or stem cell transplant
- Having certain health conditions, including:
- Brain or nervous system conditions, including a history of strokes
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic lung disease, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary embolism, pulmonary hypertension, cystic fibrosis and more
- Disabilities, including cerebral palsy, birth defects, spinal cord injuries, Down syndrome and more
- Heart disease, including heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy and more
- High blood pressure
- Mental health conditions
- Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
- Substance use disorders
If you have any of these risk factors and experience symptoms of COVID-19, it’s important to get tested as soon as possible and let your family doctor know if you are positive. Certain oral and intravenous medications have been proven to keep mild-to-moderate COVID-19 from becoming severe in high-risk individuals (when started soon after symptoms begin).
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with a confirmed case, it is best to get tested so you can avoid infecting others.
- If you are actively experiencing symptoms, it is best to get tested right away.
- If you don’t have symptoms but have been exposed, it is best to wait five days after your exposure to get tested.
- Antigen tests can be done at home and provide rapid results. However, while positive antigen test results are very reliable, a single negative result cannot rule out COVID-19 infection.
- If you receive a negative result, it is recommended to repeat the test again if you continue to have symptoms.
- If you were exposed to COVID-19 and do not have symptoms, it is recommended that you test two additional times, 48 hours apart, to make sure you are truly negative for COVID-19.
- Alternatively, you can go for a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), which is more accurate than the antigen test, at a doctor’s office or pharmacy.
- Some NAATs provide fast results, while others (like PCR tests) take longer but are the most accurate.
Learn more about COVID-19 screening and testing services available through LVHN.
Most people with COVID-19 can recover at home and take over-the-counter medications, increase their fluid intake and get more rest to improve their mild symptoms.
However, some people at high risk for developing or who are experiencing severe symptoms may need specialized care and treatment, including antiviral medications, steroids/anti-inflammatory drugs, remote monitoring or hospitalization.
Learn more about the specific COVID-19 treatments and monitoring programs available through LVHN.
Long-term effects of COVID-19
Some people who develop COVID-19 go on to experience long-term symptoms and conditions related to their initial illness. Known as post-acute sequelae of COVID (PASC), or Long COVID, these ongoing health problems can last for weeks, months or years and include:
- Blood clots
- Changes in smell or taste
- Changes in your menstrual cycle
- Chest pain
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating
- Fatigue that interferes with daily life
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle and/or joint pain
- Recurrent fevers
- Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
- Sleep problems
- Stomach pain
- Tingling, burning or numbness of the skin
If you are experiencing ongoing health concerns after facing COVID-19, be sure to speak with your family doctor for additional evaluation and care.