Here’s How Doctors Might Treat a COVID-19 Patient Who Is Experiencing ‘Mild Symptoms’2020-10-04
One of the most difficult issues in fighting COVID-19 is that the virus can create a myriad of different reactions in people. Some people with the illness never show symptoms, while others deal with days of fevers and coughing. Still other, more severe cases of coronavirus can lead to respiratory failure and deadly blood clots. That makes treating COVID-19 complicated, and with no cure or vaccine, health care workers have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to identify the best course of treatment for each patient.
That’s the issue now facing President Donald Trump’s doctors, who will monitor the president’s reaction to COVID-19 after he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for the virus. Trump is heading to Walter Reed Military Medical Center "out of an abundance of caution," said Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, for monitoring over the next few days, but "remains in good spirits" with "mild symptoms."
Trump’s symptoms in the coming days could vary wildly — in mild cases, people often develop a fever, coughing, fatigue, difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell, headaches, diarrhea and congestion. Some days may feel better than others. COVID-19 sufferers have said there were days in the middle of their illness when they felt better, only for their symptoms to return in full force the next day.
The president’s symptoms could also become more severe. His age, gender and weight, along with his history of mild heart disease, all put him at a higher risk of critical illness.
Here’s how various cases of coronavirus might be treated.
People who have tested positive for COVID-19 but do not have symptoms still need to stay home and self-isolate. Despite a lack of cough or shortness of breath, they can still easily spread the virus, just like a symptomatic case. It’s also important to stay home for at least 14 days in case they later develop symptoms — they may actually be pre-symptomatic, with their illness coming on after several days, typically 4 to 5 days after the initial infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In mild cases, people with COVID-19 can — and should — stay home to rest and monitor their symptoms. The treatment plan is similar to that of the flu. They will typically need plenty of sleep and hydration, from water and electrolyte-filled drinks. For fever and pain management, doctors recommend acetaminophen, commonly known as Tylenol. And those who already have a prescription for an inhaler may need it to help with shortness of breath.
Trump was given a single dose of an experimental but promising antibody treatment on Friday, his physician said, from pharmaceutical company Regeneron. The treatment, which has not been approved and is still in human trials, uses lab-engineered antibodies to target COVID-19 and to hopefully stop the virus from spreading in the body.
What seemed like a mild case can quickly turn severe, and COVID-19 patients may develop pneumonia, respiratory failure, sepsis, blood clots, heart failure and kidney injury, along with other complications that require hospitalizations.
At the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 was believed to be primarily a respiratory illness, and early patients were often put on ventilators to keep them breathing. Doctors and researchers later learned that the virus can attack many other parts of the body, including the heart and brain, and that most patients put on ventilators will not survive.
Several medications have come up as possible treatments for COVID-19. Studies have found that two drugs, remdesivir, an antiviral, and the inexpensive steroid dexamethasone, have been found to improve outcomes in the most severe COVID-19 patients.
Two early options, convalescent plasma from recovered patients and the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which was repeatedly touted by Trump, were found to be ineffective against COVID-19, and in the case of hydroxychloroquine, typically resulted in a higher rate of death.
As of Friday morning, more than 7,336,400 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 208,238 have died, according to The New York Times.
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