COVID-19 is a novel (new) coronavirus, not previously identified in humans, 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.
Ringing in the ears (tinnitus) is an uncommon symptom of COVID. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) do not list it as a symptom, but the United Kingdom’s National Health Service lists tinnitus as a possible long-term effect of the illness.
One study also found that COVID-19 may worsen symptoms of tinnitus in people who had the condition before they contracted the virus.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 appear about 2 to 14 days after exposure and include:
Emergency warning signs that require immediate medical attention (call 9-1-1 or go to a hospital’s emergency department):
- Difficulty breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- Bluish lips or face
- New confusion or inability to arouse
Other less common symptoms of COVID-19 may include:
What Causes COVID-19?
COVID-19 is transmitted from person-to-person through respiratory droplets propelled into the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs.
COVID-19 may also be transmitted when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes, though this method of transmission is less common.
How Is COVID-19 Diagnosed?
Doctors will perform a physical examination and patient history to look for hallmark symptoms of COVID-19, and will also ask if the patient had any known recent exposure to the virus.
If COVID-19 is suspected, viral tests can be used to diagnose the virus. Some viral tests are rapid and results are available within a few hours but are less reliable. Other tests may take several days to receive results but the results are more reliable.
- PCR tests (genetic or molecular test)
- Antigen test
Another test used to establish if a person had a past COVID-19 infection is an antibody test. An antibody test 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-19?
There is no specific treatment for COVID-19, and supportive care is aimed at relieving symptoms in mild cases.
Patients with mild illness are usually advised to remain home and self-isolate for 14 days to avoid spreading the virus. Treatments for mild COVID-19 symptoms include:
- Pain relievers
- Cough suppressants
- Adequate fluid intake
For more severe illness, patients may require hospitalization. Treatments may include:
- Antiviral therapy with remdesivir
- Dexamethasone is preferred
- Prednisone, methylprednisolone, or hydrocortisone may be used if dexamethasone is not available
- Convalescent plasma
- Immunoglobulin products
- Interleukin inhibitors
- Kinase inhibitors
- Antithrombotic therapy - anticoagulants and antiplatelet therapy
- High-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen
Ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug, is being studied as a potential treatment for COVID-19. Currently the available clinical data on the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 are limited and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19, except in a clinical trial.
Colchicine, an anti-gout medication, is also being studied in a clinical trial to determine if short-term treatment with colchicine will reduce lung complications and the rate of death in COVID-19 patients. It is not currently approved for use to treat patients for COVID-19.
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.
Hydroxychloroquine was touted as a possible treatment in the past, but studies to date have shown it to be ineffective with a high risk of fatal heart arrhythmias, and it is not recommended.
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