Coronavirus is here… What we need to know

With all the talk about coronavirus, it is important to have the facts. Your doctors at Digestive Health Specialists are watching this closely as it progresses to provide you with the best and most accurate information as it presents itself. These are some of the most common questions we are receiving.

How worried should I be?

  • It is important to be concerned and to practice safe measures but there is no need to panic. Most people (81%) that become infected will have a mild illness and recover completely within two weeks

What is COVID-19?

  • Coronavirus 2019 “COVID-19” is an infection caused by a specific virus called SARS-CoV-2
  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that get their name from the halo of spiked proteins that cover their outer surface giving it the appearance of a crown (corona) under a microscope

How does COVID-19  spread?

  • Respiratory droplets that travel when an infected person breathes heavily, talks, coughs or sneezes in close proximity to others (within 6 ft.) – if any droplet lands on a nearby person and gets into their eyes, nose or mouth that person is at risk of being infected
  • Touching contaminated surfaces (where droplets have landed) and then touching your mouth/nose/eyes can cause infection

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Joint or muscle aches
  • Productive cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Nasal congestion
  • Diarrhea – may be a presenting symptom in a minority of cases
  • Anorexia
  • Abdominal Pain

What is the range of severity?

  • Mild disease – 81%-slight symptoms to mild pneumonia
  • Severe Disease – 14%- difficult or labored breathing, increased rate of breathing
  • Critical – 5% – respiratory failure, shock, dysfunction of multiple organs

What is the average age of infection?

The majority of patients that fall ill are 40-55 years old with 50 being the median.

Who is most at risk of severe or critical illness?

  • Those most at risk are those 60 years old and above and also those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease

What can I do to protect myself and others?

– The CDC recommends the following ways to limit your risk of infection:

  • Avoid having close contact with people who are sick.
  • Do not touch your nose, eyes, and mouth if you have not washed your hands.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. To ensure you wash for the appropriate amount of time, sing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or another short song two to three times to reach 20 full seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available to you, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Check the label to confirm the amount of alcohol.

Here are some other actions to take if you are feeling ill or you think you may have been exposed COVID-19:

  • Stay home if you are feeling sick
  • Contact your doctor
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and throw it in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects
  • Wear a facemask if you are showing symptoms or have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Wearing a mask will reduce the potential spread of the virus to others.

How long does COVID-19 last?

  • According to experts, it takes 4-6 days from the day you are infected until you develop symptoms with average being 4.
  • Those with the mild disease appear to recover in about 2 weeks while those with more severe disease can take anywhere from 3-6 weeks to recover

When should I seek help?

  • If you have a fever, cough or mild shortness of breath you should call or see your primary care provider. This is especially true if you have had close contact (within 6 feet) with anybody known to have the virus if you have recently traveled to an area with a high number of cases or you went to an event or location where there have been known cases of infection.
  • If you have mild symptoms it is important to call your primary care provider as they can direct you in the next course of action.
  • If you are severely ill you should call an ambulance or go to the hospital right away depending on the degree of illness.

Should I be worried about COVID-19 if I have Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

  • From a GI perspective, we have received many questions from our Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s and Ulcerative colitis) patients about their medication. The recommendations from national experts at this time are to stay on your IBD medications. Also, lower your risk of infection by not traveling unnecessarily, avoid large gatherings, washing your hands regularly, and not touching your face. This may change as more information presents itself and we will update you as it comes to light.

How is Digestive Health Specialists responding? Read it here: Digestive Health Specialists’ Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Dr. Apsara Prasad, gastroenterologist for Digestive Health Specialists
By: Dr. Apsara Prasad
Board-certified gastroenterologist at Digestive Health Specialists.
She works at our Kernersville and Winston-Salem locations. 
Learn more about her here:

Digestive Health Specialists, PA is here to help if you, or someone you know, would like more information, or if you are experiencing any digestive health symptoms and would like further evaluation. Feel free to give us a call at 336-768-6211.