What You Should Know About COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world we live in. As lockdowns lift and restrictions ease, it might seem like the risk of illness is decreasing. But the threat that COVID-19 poses is far from over. In fact, Oregon now requires face coverings statewide.
At One Peak Medical, we understand the concern and uncertainty that the pandemic has brought into the world. Our team wants to assure our patients and the communities we serve that we’re here for you. Education and vigilance will help us get through to the other side.
The COVID-19 virus is new. That means there are more questions than answers right now, but top researchers around the world are working tirelessly to better understand how the virus affects the human body. Here’s what we know so far.
How COVID-19 spreads
There’s a lot that isn’t known about how the COVID-19 virus spreads, but initial research has focused on how it enters the human body.
Previously identified coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), have some similarities to COVID-19, but they aren’t identical.
Coronaviruses can infect birds and mammals, including humans. They get their name because virus cells have spikes on their surface that look like the points of a crown, and corona is the Latin word for crown.
The spikes on coronaviruses allow them to attach firmly to cell receptors inside your body. Once the virus enters your body and attaches to cell receptors, it releases genetic material and turns the cells into hosts that help the virus spread.
The COVID-19 virus specifically attaches to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors. ACE2 receptors are found throughout the body, but the receptors in your nose, mouth, lungs, and back of your throat are most at risk in a COVID-19 infection.
Fighting back against COVID-19
If you’re exposed to the COVID-19 virus and it enters your body, your immune system responds quickly. It has two main goals: killing off the infection and creating antibodies to protect you from infection in the future.
In the best-case scenario, your immune system successfully fights off the virus before any symptoms develop. This is common because millions of people around the world show signs of having had the virus but they were asymptomatic.
Currently, available information shows that people with immune system disorders or respiratory conditions need to remain on high alert and take extra caution to keep themselves healthy for the foreseeable future.
Those with other preexisting conditions, including heart conditions, diabetes, and kidney and liver diseases, must also take precautions because they are also at greater risk of developing complications from viral infections.
If you don’t have a preexisting condition, it’s imperative to do your part in stopping the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds. Wear a face mask or other covering, maintain your distance from others, and avoid crowds.
COVID-19 symptoms to look for
Noticeable symptoms develop when your body has a tougher time fighting off the virus.
While anyone can develop symptoms, you’re at greater risk of complications if your immune system is unable to respond sufficiently or if you have a preexisting respiratory condition like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Dry cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Aches and pains
- Sore throat
- Loss of taste and/or smell
If you do experience symptoms, don’t panic. It’s likely that your immune system will eventually prevail. Most people recover fully without developing life-threatening complications, but it’s important to note that even people without risk factors have developed serious cases.
For more information on staying safe and healthy, or to learn what to do if you or a loved one has symptoms, contact us.