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COVID-19 is a disease caused by a type of coronavirus. This illness was first found in December 2019. It has since spread worldwide.
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses. They cause the common cold. They also cause more serious illnesses like Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus. That means it's a new type that has not been seen in people before.
COVID-19 symptoms may include:
In severe cases, COVID-19 can cause pneumonia and make it hard to breathe without help from a machine. It can cause death.
COVID-19 is diagnosed with a viral test. This may also be called a PCR test or antigen test. It looks for evidence of the virus in your breathing passages or lungs (respiratory system).
The test is most often done on a sample from the nose, throat, or lungs. It's sometimes done on a sample of saliva. One way a sample is collected is by putting a long swab into the back of your nose.
If you have questions about COVID-19 testing, ask your doctor or go to cdc.gov to use the COVID-19 Viral Testing Tool.
Mild cases of COVID-19 can be treated at home. Serious cases need treatment in the hospital. Treatment may include medicines, plus breathing support such as oxygen therapy or a ventilator. Some people may be placed on their belly to help their oxygen levels.
Treatments that may help people who have COVID-19 include:
COVID-19 usually causes mild illness, similar to the flu. But some people get much sicker. They may develop pneumonia or other problems that need to be treated in the hospital. Some people die.
People with mild illness usually recover in about 2 weeks. But some people have health problems that last much longer. These may include fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, pain in the chest, and depression or anxiety.
The virus can affect the heart, lungs, and brain in some people. Experts are studying COVID-19 to learn more about how it affects long-term health.
Check the CDC website at cdc.gov for the most current information on how to protect yourself. And if you have questions, ask your doctor or go to cdc.gov to use the COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Calculator.
Here are some other steps you may need to take.
Current as of:
September 28, 2022
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Heather Quinn MD - Family MedicineLesley Ryan MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: September 28, 2022
Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine & Lesley Ryan MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
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