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Every Cough And Breathing Difficulty Is Not Corona Virus Disease

How to distinguish corona from other common viral infections like cold, flu and other respiratory viruses? After its origin in the Wuhan city of Hubei province of China, the deadly corona virus has taken the whole world in its grip and the pandemic has caused huge loss in terms of human lives and global economy.

The virus causes respiratory tract infection and is transmitted by droplet infection mainly with possible airborne transmission. After its entry into the body, the virus causes 3 distinct though overlapping phases of illness. It causes upper respiratory infection, during the first days of infection. After virus enters respiratory tract, it causes symptoms like cough, sore throat, fever, body aches, fatigue and loss of ability to smell and taste.

Pneumonia —6th to 10th day of infection – Once the virus grows in body and enters into lungs and start infection in lungs it is called pneumonia phase in which there is breathing difficulty in addition to fever and other symptoms listed above.

Cytokine release syndrome is immune-mediated organ damage which usually occurs after 10th day when antibodies against virus act against body and cause organ damage.

How to distinguish corona from other viral infections

Rainy season brings number of viruses like rhino virus, corona viruses and rsv adeno virus which can cause upper respiratory tract infection which can cause similar symptoms.

In case of common cold fever, fatigue, body aches, chills etc are not seen.

Influenza or the flu virus has relatively quicker onset with more abrupt symptoms like fever chills, fatigue and breathing difficulty.

Covid-19 has gradual onset and incubation period is longer. Peculiar symptoms are loss of taste and smell. Other problems we commonly face that we need to distinguish Covid-19 from allergy rhinitis and asthma attack.

Breathing difficulty is usually the second phase of Covid-19

Asthma patient can have similar symptoms like breathlessness, chest tightness, uneasiness and low oxygen. Those who have previous history of asthma and who are not taking their medications properly are prone to have asthma attack. Again, fever and body aches are not a feature of asthma and seen in Covid-19 pneumonia.

Persons who have chronic lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or interstitial lung disease are more prone to high complications rate and death due to corona. These patients can have frequent worsening, majority of which are caused by infections. One third are caused by viruses. The corona virus infection can be responsible for such exacerbation.

The panic related with current pandemic, social isolation due to lockdown and fear of loss of job are the factors responsible for rising stress among public and is responsible for mental breakdown among predisposed individuals.

Few tips:

  • Maintain mental calm, do exercise, meditate and have good nourishing diet
  • Be aware of corona symptoms and understand that this is a contagious disease
  • But very mild in majority (more than 80%) only 2 to 3 % people die due to corona
  • Non pharmacological interventions like wearing mask, hand hygiene, cough etiquettes, isolating those who are having respiratory symptoms should be observed all the time.