Is Congestion a Symptom of COVID?

Reviewed on 11/29/2021

Congestion can be a symptom of COVID. The most common symptoms of COVID include cough, shortness of breath, and fever or chills.
Congestion can be a symptom of COVID. The most common symptoms of COVID include cough, shortness of breath, and fever or chills.

COVID-19 is a novel (new) coronavirus, not previously identified in humans, that is responsible for an outbreak of respiratory illness that became a global pandemic in 2020. COVID-19 is different from other coronaviruses that cause mild illness, such as the common cold.

Congestion can be a symptom of COVID. 

The most common symptoms of COVID occur about two to 14 days after exposure and include:

Other symptoms of COVID-19 include:

Signs of COVID that require immediate medical attention (call 911 or go to a hospital’s emergency department): 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse

How Is COVID Diagnosed?

COVID is diagnosed with a physical examination and a patient history which will include asking if the patient had any known recent exposure to the virus. 

If COVID is suspected, tests used to diagnose the virus include: 

  • PCR tests (genetic or molecular test) 
    • Results can take hours to up to one week
    • More accurate than an antigen test
  • Antigen test
    • Results are available in less than one hour
    • Less accurate than a PCR test

An antibody test may be used to determine if a person had a past COVID-19 infection, but it is not used to diagnose current infections because it takes up to 3 weeks following infection for the body to produce antibodies to the virus. 

What Is the Treatment for COVID?

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19, and supportive care is aimed at relieving symptoms in mild cases. 

In mild cases, staying home and self-isolating for 14 days is recommended to avoid spreading the virus. Treatments for mild COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Pain relievers 
  • Cough suppressants
  • Rest
  • Adequate fluid intake

Casirivimab/imdevimab (Regen-COV), a monoclonal antibody combination, has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adult and pediatric patients 12 years and older who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization.

Monoclonal antibodies are not indicated for use in severe cases.

More severe COVID-19 cases may require hospitalization and treatments may include:

  • Antiviral therapy with remdesivir 
  • Corticosteroids 
  • Immunotherapy 
  • Antithrombotic therapy - anticoagulants and antiplatelet therapy 
  • High-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen 
  • Ventilation 

Hydroxychloroquine has been touted as a possible treatment, but studies have shown it to be ineffective with a high risk of fatal heart arrhythmias, and it is not recommended. 

Current guidelines neither recommend nor advise against the use of vitamin C, vitamin D, or zinc. Zinc should not be taken in doses above the recommended daily allowance (RDA) due to the risk of toxicity. 

How Do You Prevent COVID-19?

The best way to prevent infection with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is vaccination. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends all eligible individuals be vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19: 

  • Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine 
    • Approved for individuals 16 years and older
    • Emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 12 years and older
    • Emergency use authorization (EUA) for children between the ages of 5 and 11 
      • One-third the dose given to adolescents and adults, and the vaccine is delivered with a smaller needle
    • Requires 2 shots administered 3 weeks apart

Two additional vaccines have emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for use to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2): 

  • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine 
    • Emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 18 years and older
    • Requires 2 shots administered 4 weeks apart
  • Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)
    • Emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 18 years and older
    • Requires just one injection 

Everyone 18 years and older who received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is eligible for a booster shot at least 6 months after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series. People ages 50 years and older and those 18 years and older who live in a long-term care setting should get a booster. 

For people who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for individuals 18 years and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

People can choose which COVID-19 vaccine to receive as a booster shot, and the CDC recommendations allow for mixing and matching vaccines. 

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Reviewed on 11/29/2021
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