A new unexpected coronavirus pandemic in early 2020 is generating terrific headlines in the newspapers, television, notifications, social media wherever we go and made the whole world to shut down. Additionally, research studies are going on continuously to present a full picture of coronavirus about its symptoms and severity for health care workers not to miss any information when they treat people.
Consequently, the virus officially named (SARS- COV-2) which belongs to the family of coronavirus is now responsible for hundreds of thousands of death across the world.
Read on to learn about
1. What Is The Coronavirus?
2. How Do You Catch Coronavirus?
3. Coronavirus Vs Flu
4. Symptomatic coronavirus
5. Asymptotic Coronavirus
6. Symptoms Of Coronavirus
7. Complications Of Coronavirus
8. Who Are Most Affected By Coronavirus?
9. Does Measures Like Handwashing, Mask wearing and Social Distancing Prevent The Spread?
10. How Will You Be Treated?
1. What Is Coronavirus?
All the viruses contain a thing in common i.e, the genetic material which is the DNA or RNA along with the information for multiplication and make more copies. RNA Virus carries only fewer genes and tends to be smaller. But on the contrary, they infect many hosts and replicate faster.
The Coronavirus has RNA which is surrounded by a helical capsid and in turn, the helical capsid is surrounded by an envelope.
They have spike projections all around them. It is said that spike proteins (S. Proteins) and the hemagglutinin esterase protein are the two proteins that are needed to attach to our host body cells which expresses a favourable protein ( receptor) to fuse and push the virus into the cells. The other proteins present on top is the M- Protein, and E- Proteins.
The virus carrying the genetic material fuses into our body and uses a specific structure in your cell called ribosomes to make new copies of the virus. There, they leave to infect more cells. To demonstrate, S- proteins attack the nearby healthy cells and fuse together with them forming a giant cell. This is another way for the virus to spread among your body.
2. How Do You Catch Coronavirus?
In this case, the main way of spread is found to be through droplet infection when people cough, sneeze or if you touch somebody who’s ill and get your Coronovirus infected hands to rub your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Additionally, it also lives on surfaces like doorknobs, bed railings but the duration is still uncertain.
To sum up, the virus begins its journey here and travels deeper into your body. Its destinations are the lungs, intestines, and spleen where it causes a dramatic effect.
3. How It Is Different From Flu?
- Firstly, both coronavirus and flu are respiratory illnesses. The Coronavirus is similar to the flu but the thing is the Coronavirus is much more dangerous than flu. When the exact rate of affected people is not clearly understood, we know that it is much more contagious and spreads faster than the flu.
- Secondly, COVID 19 takes place at a gradual onset whereas flu takes place in a rapid onset. Coronavirus takes time to a subset of 2-14 days whereas flu gets cured in 4 days.
- Symptoms get worse in the second week of illness like shortness of breath, fever, and cough in a case of coronavirus while flu is typically mild.
- The incubation period for coronavirus is 2 to 14 days and the median incubation period is 4-5 days according to the centers of disease control and prevention. The average incubation period for flu is shorter that is 2 days. This means if the person was put into self-quarantine for 14 days after being in contact with a COVID 19 infected person and doesn’t turn up ill means that he is not infected.
4. When Will You Be Symptomatic?
According to the Annals Of Internal Medicine, around 97 % of people who have been affected by SARS-COV-2, showed symptoms within 11.5 days of exposure.
However, some people will be asymptomatic which means they are affected by Coronavirus but doesn’t show any symptoms. In some cases, people who have symptoms will gradually become severe when the diseases progress if left untreated.
5. Why Are Some People Asymptomatic?
Before moving onto symptoms, it’s very important to speak about asymptomatic too!
If someone is asymptomatic and spreads this virus, how do we know that we are socially safe?
The most astonishing thing I came across is the study done by Annals Of Internal Medicine in June 2020 and other studies where they have stated that 40-45% of people are asymptomatic. According to the WHO coronavirus update, about 80% of cases are asymptomatic and mild, 15% are severe and 5% of people require oxygen therapy and ventilation.
“But, the spread of coronavirus asymptomatic COVID 19 person to the secondary individuals appears to be rare,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical Lead for the Coronavirus response and Head of emerging diseases, World’s Health Organization on June 09, 2020
6. What Are The Symptoms Of Coronavirus?
In the early days of infection, the virus will invade the lung cells. Specifically, they damage the cilia which are hair-like projections to keep the airways clear from mucus and debris. When cells get infected, they die and shed off. This prevents the lung cells to keep stuff away from the lungs and trachea. Besides, the inflammation causes damage and the damage causes inflammation and this cycle continues until there is no healthy tissue left.
As your cells are damaging and dying, your body will sense this and starts to trigger an immune response. Both of these things will start producing symptoms in your body.
What Causes A Fever?
To demonstrate ever is the elevation of the body temperature than its normal by the hypothalamic regulatory centre by the release of prostaglandins like PGE2.
The increase in body temperature causes muscle contractions and causes a feeling of cold. This results in greater heat production. In this case, a small elevation in the body temperature appears to make your immune system function better and inhibit the growth of pathogens.
What Causes Shortness Of Breath?
We inhale air through the nose, and into the trachea. Following, the trachea bifurcates into the right bronchi and left bronchi, into the bronchioles, and alveoli ( also called the air sacs). The springy alveoli inflate like a small balloon when you inhale and deflate when they exhale.
But in the case of coronavirus infection, the immune cells (fighting cells against microorganisms) are overwhelmed by the virus, and the bronchioles and alveoli become inflamed.
At this time, as the immune system attacks the multiplying viruses, the alveoli are filled with fluid which makes it difficult for your body to get the oxygen it needs. This results in shortness of breath.
To clarify, a tickle in the back of the throat results in a cough. That’s because the airway is constantly changing with wet cough says. Dr. Das. In a wet cough, mucus builds up and leaves, constantly changing the airways.
In some cases, the inflammation can lead to serious complications like lobar pneumonia (the lobe of the lung will be affected) and bronchopneumonia.
What Causes The Production Of Phlegm In Wet Cough?
In some people, the body will produce more cough and phlegm which makes the virus so difficult to get attached to your cells. A cough is a protective reflex of the large breathing passages to prevent from fluids, irritants, and microbes.
What Causes Sore Throat?
Well, sore throat is a very common but non-specific symptom. The invading coronavirus causes inflammation which is due to the local damage of the lining of the throat.
What Makes You Tired?
Additionally, as your body starts to prioritize fighting off the virus, you may feel weak. Making you rest in bed makes your Immune system to work in a more hostile environment to kick off the virus and dead cells.
Are You Feeling Joint Pain?
White blood cells are the soldiers of your immune system who fights against the foreign particles and invading microorganisms. Overproduction of white blood cells to fight the virus causes joint pain.
What If You Have An Increased Heart Rate?
The low partial pressure oxygen levels in the body stimulate the chemoreceptors. This reflex causes the sympathetic nervous system to be stimulated and increases the patient’s heart rate known as tachycardia.
Loss Of Taste And Smell
On June 13, 2020, the health ministry has added new symptoms to the list like
The sense of smell in COVID-19 patients appears to be lost due to sustentacular neurons which assist neurons in sensing odor, probably by processing odor binding proteins.
Identifying the cells can help in the development of accurate diagnostic tests for COVID 19.
Congestion or runny nose, nausea, diarrhea are the 3 new symptoms that have also been added to the US’s health protection agency’s list.
7. Serious Complications Of Coronavirus
The affected people are categorized into weak, severe, and critical based on the recovering rate.
- Weak – recovery within a few days to weeks.
- Severe – the patients develop ARDS and other complications.
- Critical – may take months
Pneumonia occurs when the air sacs in your lungs become inflamed which makes it hard to breathe. Sources showed that the images of the ill COVID 19 patient’s lungs are filled with debris, pus, and fluid. It can affect the lobes( lobar)or bronchioles( bronchopneumonia).
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome occurs when the fluid buildup in the alveoli ( the tiny springy air sacs) present in the lungs. The fluid accumulation in the lungs prevents it from getting enough oxygen. This suffocates your other organs in the body due to the low oxygen level.
They are hospitalized with mechanical ventilators or supplemental oxygen therapy. 30-40% of cases are fatal due to the extreme accumulation of fluid in the lungs which doesn’t allow oxygen to move into the lungs.
Acute Cardiac Injury
Researches in the Washington state have studied COVID-19 in patients have found that they have high levels of cardiac ailments.
Sources have mentioned that people who have been affected by COVID 19 virus are prone to a bacterial infection. The most common causative agents are streptococci and staphylococci.
Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation
The condition in which the body’s clotting response doesn’t work properly leads to abnormal clot formation and organ failure. A Chinese study has confirmed that DIC was a common cause in people who died due to COVID 19.
8. Who Are Prone To The Infection?
Now, coronavirus is not a very serious disease for people with a healthy immune system. But it should be a serious consideration for people with immunocompromised systems.
- Elderly people ( more than 60 years old)
- Newborn and young children
- Pregnant women
- Breastfeeding mothers
People who have chronic illnesses like
- Respiratory illness
- Cardiac diseases
- Chronic Liver Disease
9. Does Handwashing Really Prevent The Transmission Of The Virus?
Yeah! As Ignaz Semmelweis demonstrated more than 150 years ago, hand washing (hand soap) dramatically reduces the transmission of pathogens from person to person.
The Coronavirus like many other viruses is made up of a protective lipid(fat) bilayer. Soap breaks the fat and leaves it unable to cause infection. It also makes the hand slippery during the mechanical motions of handwashing which rip off viruses from your hands.
Does Social Distancing Prevent The Spread?
Since we don’t have a vaccine, we should socially engineer our behaviour. This simply means
1. Not getting infected.
2. Not to infect others.
Even though it may sound trivial, self-quarantine and social distancing are the must-follow rules for the time to pull down the pandemic level. Maintain social distancing approximately 2 meters from individuals who have respiratory symptoms.
The Regular Practice Of Wearing Masks
After the advice of everyone doesn’t need to wear masks unless you are sick, the CDC gave an about-turn soon. The very practical things were the huge demand for masks and respirators which was a huge concern at the time.
That’s why the regular follow up of wearing masks and handwashing reduces the risk to spread and catch the virus even if we are well.
NOTE: DO NOT TOUCH THE OUTER SURFACE OF THE MASK!
10. Treatment For Coronavirus.
- Respiratory specimens
- Blood tests
- Chest X-ray or CT scan so that doctors could understand better about the affected parts in your lung.
- The gold standard test for COVID 19 is the reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. However current studies mentioned that only 30-70 % of results are true due to not enough virus in the blood in the early stages of testing.
- Tests for any underlying conditions. ie, fasting blood sugar for diabetes
- Antibiotics– this may not fight coronavirus directly but prevents the risk of additional bacteria infections developing in your lungs. Since there is no specific drug approved to treat SARS-COV-2, your immune system will provide the required antibodies to fight the infection.
- IV fluids – IV fluids are administered in the cases of diarrhoea and dehydration. , IV fluids help to maintain your electrolyte balance.
- Oxygen Therapy And Mechanical Ventilation – Supplemental oxygen therapy is a way to relieve mild difficulty in breathing. In severe cases, high flow oxygen and ventilators is a choice to provide symptomatic relief.
Doctors will treat patient symptomatically until they are immune system produces antibodies to fight the virus.
We are going through a hard time. Coronavirus is a challenge and the year 2020 will be remembered for the next generation as the year of COVID pandemic! The pandemic gets even worse before it gets better. The goal is simple, to persist. To infect our cells, replicate and spread throughout the whole body!
None of the social distancing measures is fun but it’s just a small thing we can do easily, to stay at home, boosts your immunity, and get concerned about Vitamin D levels! And at this time, it’s all in our hands literally and figuratively!