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There are many questions out there that have produced answers from throughout the media and social networks that can be misleading or even dangerous. Hopefully we can help answer some of your questions. These answers are based on the limited scientific evidence we have at this time. Obviously there are no long term studies for many of these answers.
1) What is Covid-19?
In essence it stands for Coronavirus Disease 2019. It is a novel virus that started in Wuhan, China approximately October 2019 and is spread by respiratory droplets. It is an animal virus that no human had immunity to and therefore we are all susceptible to getting it. It is highly contagious and in some people may cause severe symptoms such as pneumonia, respiratory distress, multi system organ failure and on rare occasion, death. The majority of the people affected severely are the elderly and people with heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory issues like COPD, emphysema and long standing lung disease, however, the disease is not only limited to them.
2) What are the symptoms?
There are a wide variety of symptoms with the most common being fever, cough and shortness of breath. Most people will have mild or moderate symptoms (approximately 80% possibly higher). If you have symptoms CALL your doctor. Do not go to the doctors office or urgent care facility. Your doctor will guide you what to do and when to go to the emergency room if needed
3) How reliable is the COVID-19 test?
If you get a test, and it is positive, then most likely you are infected with the Cover-19 virus. A negative test is less definitive. It is possible the swab "missed" the virus or the test was not adequate and you have a false negative. The only reason to repeat a test is if your symptoms worsen significantly.
4) What is the new antibody test?
Your body makes a molecule called an antibody the first time you get into contact with a virus or bacteria. The antibody is created in response to the viruses genetic code that our body is unfamiliar with. When you get a virus for the first time, as with coronavirus the entire human population has never been exposed, it takes longer to generate the antibodies to create the immune response to kill the virus. Once you have been exposed to the virus, if it occurs again later in life, your body will save these antibodies and reduce the time it takes to get rid of the virus because it, effectively, already knows how to kill it. We are currently looking at the genetic code of the viruses to identify what antibodies are required, with new research looking at the antibodies of people who have already overcome the disease to help people who are at risk. This is under investigation.
5) When is a vaccine coming?
The vaccines are being tested. Basically, the vaccine a section of the viral genetic code that has a specific layout that causes our body to react to it. We usually label this as a "dead" section of the virus- one that does not cause us to have an immune response and get sick. The body can recognize said piece of the genetic code and form an antibody to it. With regulations being bypassed due to seriousness of this virus, hopefully vaccines will be available in months.
6) I am pregnant. What are my and my babies risks?
There appears to be no evidence of increased risk of miscarriage or fetal malformations. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists notes pregnant women who get Covid-19 MAY have a higher risk for preterm births but the data is very limited. A study of pregnant women who were infected with COVID-19 and had symptoms showed none of their babies were affected by the virus. There is no evidence that the virus can be spread through breast milk. Breast feeding can be done while the mother maintains safety precautions for the baby including hand washing and facemasks to protect the baby.
7) What can I do to keep my immune system healthy?
First and foremost, DO NOT SMOKE. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Take a multivitamin. Exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, control your stress level, control your blood pressure. If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. Get plenty of sleep. WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN.
8) Can my pet infect me?
There is no evidence pets can spread this virus.
9) Will a pneumococcal vaccine help protect me?
While they will not prevent you from getting COVID-19, they will help you from getting some bacterial respiratory illnesses.
10) Should I wear a face mask?
As of recommendations a month ago, unless you have a cough or are sneezing, it is not presently recommended to wear a mask. Elderly people or people with medical issues should be especially careful.
11) What about my upcoming knee or shoulder surgery?
All elective surgeries have been put on hold at this point in time. If you have a serious condition that requires emergent surgery, we are still available to perform surgeries. Elective surgeries are not being put on hold because of patients risking coronavirus. The issue, as has been seen in the media, is that the ERs and hospital physicians on the front lines of the virus treatment are running out of supplies. Operating room resources, such as ventilators, tubing and masks have been shifted to help our ER and hospital counterparts stay protected.
PPE= personal protective equipment
12) Should I go to the doctor for an office visit?
Many doctors are doing office visits via "telehealth", either by phone Skype or FaceTime. If your visit requires you to come to the office, we are performing the following precautions: limiting the number of people in the waiting room (you may choose to wait in your vehicle), each room is being disinfected after each patient, your temperature will be taken upon entering our office (if you have a fever or any symptoms, you may speak to the doctor by phone and if the doctor needs to see you, proper PPE will be used).
13) What about certain medications that may make COVID-19 worse?
Some studies show ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (certain types of blood pressure medication) may allow the virus to enter your system more readily, however it is recommended to NOT stop taking these meds. The resultant high blood pressure of stopping these meds are worse and also increase your morbidity with the COVID-19 virus. Ibuprofen MAY worsen the severity of the disease. At this point in time, there is no evidence to prove this however, it is recommended to stop taking ibuprofen and take Tylenol (acetaminophen) instead
14) Ibuprofen and coronavirus
While we do not have a guaranteed answer, there may be an increase risk using NSAIDS like ibuprofen. There is no good data to prove this and as of right now, if possible, we are recommending Tylenol if you don't have renal problems.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us and see if we may be of assistance.
Atlanta Bone and Joint Specialists