With the rise of new virus variants, knowing when to seek medical attention for COVID-19 has become a crucial aspect of safeguarding our health and the well-being of our communities. With the ongoing pandemic, it’s essential to be well-informed about the signs and symptoms that warrant a trip to the hospital. In this blog, we’ll provide you with valuable insights and guidance on when to go to the hospital for COVID-19, helping you make informed decisions about your healthcare and ensuring the best possible outcomes for yourself and those around you.
COVID-19 Risk Factors
COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, can affect individuals differently, with some experiencing mild symptoms or even asymptomatic cases, while others may develop severe symptoms or complications. Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of severe illness or complications if someone contracts the virus. These risk factors include:
Older adults, especially those over 65, are at a higher risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. The risk increases with each decade of life.
Underlying Medical Conditions
Certain underlying health conditions can make individuals more susceptible to severe COVID-19. These conditions include:
- Heart Disease
- Lung Disease (e.g., Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or Asthma)
- High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Liver Disease
- Immunocompromised Conditions (e.g., HIV, Organ Transplant Recipients, or Individuals Undergoing Cancer Treatment)
Weakened Immune System
A compromised immune system can reduce the body’s ability to fight off infections, including COVID-19. This includes conditions like HIV/AIDS or the use of immunosuppressive medications.
Pregnant individuals may be at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, particularly during the later stages of pregnancy.
Smoking and tobacco use can damage the respiratory system, making it more susceptible to viral infections like COVID-19.
Obesity can increase the risk of severe COVID-19 because it can affect lung function and may lead to inflammation.
Living in congregate settings such as a nursing home or long-term care facility can increase the risk of exposure and transmission of the virus.
Certain occupations that require close contact with the public or involve working in crowded indoor settings may increase the risk of exposure to the virus.
COVID-19 can present with a wide range of symptoms. Common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Fever or Chills
- Wet or Dry Cough
- Feeling Short of Breath
- Difficulty Breathing
- Muscle or Body Aches
- Sore Throat
- Loss of Taste or Smell
- Congestion or Runny Nose
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Skin Rash or Discoloration
- Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)
It’s important to note that symptoms can vary from person to person, and some individuals may experience symptoms that are not listed here. Additionally, some individuals may remain asymptomatic but can still transmit the virus to others.
When to Go to the Hospital for COVID-19
Seeking medical attention at a hospital for COVID-19 is typically necessary in specific situations, especially if you or someone you know is experiencing severe symptoms or complications. Here are some guidelines on when to consider going to the hospital for COVID-19:
Severe Difficulty Breathing: If you or someone you know is experiencing shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, abdominal pain, or chest pain or pressure, this is an emergency. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately and inform them of the COVID-19 symptoms.
Persistent High Fever: If you have a high fever (above 104°F or 40°C) that doesn’t respond to fever-reducing medication, it’s important to seek medical attention.
Confusion or Inability to Stay Awake: If you or someone you know experiences confusion, impaired mental status, disorientation, extreme sleepiness, or difficulty staying awake, seek emergency care immediately.
Discoloration of Face or Lips: For patients with pale skin, a lack of oxygen in the blood, which is a medical emergency, may present symptoms such as a blue face or lips, also known as cyanosis. For patients with darker skin, cyanosis may be more visible in one’s nail beds or mucous membranes, including the lips, gums, and around the eyes. Additionally, instead of a blue coloration, patients of color may see their lips or faces turn gray or whitish. Call 911 or seek immediate medical attention in the event of these types of symptoms.
Signs of Dehydration: Severe vomiting, diarrhea, or inability to keep fluids down can lead to life-threatening dehydration. Dehydration can exacerbate the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and may require hospitalization for intravenous fluids.
Worsening Symptoms: If you have mild COVID-19 symptoms that worsen after a few days, especially if you have underlying health conditions, consult with a healthcare provider. They can assess your condition and determine if hospitalization is necessary.
What to Expect From Exceptional ER
In times of severe health complications, patients will receive more immediate care from an emergency room than from a primary care physician. When seeking help for severe COVID-19 symptoms or complications at a freestanding emergency room like Exceptional ER, individuals can expect the following:
- Triage and Assessment: Immediate evaluation to assess the severity of the condition.
- COVID-19 Testing: If not already tested, a COVID-19 test may be conducted.
- Immediate Care: Prompt medical interventions like oxygen therapy, IV fluids, or medications.
- Diagnostic Tests: Additional tests, such as X-rays or CT scans, may be ordered.
- Isolation and Infection Control: Patients with COVID-19 will be isolated, and staff will wear protective gear.
- Specialist Consultation: Specialists may be consulted if needed.
- Treatment and Monitoring: Physicians will provide tailored treatment plans and close monitoring of the patient’s condition.
- Communication: Care teams will provide regular updates to the patient and their family regarding treatment and progress.
- Hospital Transfer: In severe cases, transfer to a hospital for advanced care may be necessary.
Accurate information and cooperation are crucial for effective care, and follow-up guidance will be provided based on the patient’s condition and treatment plan. Procedures may vary between facilities, but the goal is timely and appropriate care.
Seek immediate help at an Exceptional Emergency Center facility near you if you or a loved one experiences severe COVID-19 symptoms or complications. Members of the Amarillo community can seek help at Exceptional ER’s affiliate, Amarillo Community Hospital. With a dedicated team of medical professionals, state-of-the-art facilities, and a commitment to your health and safety, Exceptional Emergency Center is here to provide the exceptional care you deserve. y acting swiftly and responsibly, we can navigate these uncertain waters and emerge stronger on the other side together. Visit our website to learn more.