Dr. Julie Lunsford provides COVID-19 Patient Education and Information
Kerrville, TX – The Schreiner University Emergency Response Team asked Dr. Julie Lunsford to provide COVID-19 Patient Information to the campus community so that they may better protect themselves and others from this infectious disease. Below is her advice:
What is COVID-19?
Coronavirus disease 2019, or “COVID-19”, is an infection caused by a specific virus called SARS-CoV-2. People with COVID-19 can have fever, cough, and trouble breathing. Problems with breathing happen when the infection affects the lungs and causes pneumonia.
How is COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 mainly spreads from person to person, similar to the flu. This usually happens when a sick person coughs or sneezes near other people. Doctors also think it is possible to get sick if you touch a surface that has the virus on it and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.
From what experts know so far, COVID-19 seems to spread most easily when people are showing symptoms. It is possible to spread it without having symptoms, too, but experts don’t know how often this happens.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms usually start a few days after a person is infected with the virus. But in some people it can take even longer for symptoms to appear, typically between 2 to 14 days.
Symptoms can include: Fever (above 100 degrees), Cough, Feeling Tired, Trouble Breathing and Muscle Aches. Most people have mild symptoms. Some people have no symptoms at all. But in other people, COVID-19 can lead to serious problems like pneumonia, not getting enough oxygen, or even death. This is more common in people who are older or have other health problems.
Should I see a doctor?
If you have a fever, cough, or trouble breathing and might have been exposed to COVID-19, call your doctor or nurse. You might have been exposed if any of the following happened within the last 14 days:
- You had close contact with a person who has the virus: This generally means being within about 6 feet of the person.
- You lived in, or traveled to, an area where lots of people have the virus: The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has information about which areas are affected. Website: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
- You went to an event or location where there were known cases of COVID-19: For example, if multiple people got sick after a specific gathering or in your workplace, you might have been exposed.
If your symptoms are not severe, it is best to call your doctor, nurse, or clinic before you go in. They can tell you what to do and whether you need to be seen in person. If you do need to go to the clinic or hospital, you will need to put on a face mask.
If you are severely ill and need to go to the clinic or hospital right away, you should still call ahead. This way the staff can care for you while taking steps to protect others.
Your doctor or nurse will do an exam and ask about your symptoms. They will also ask questions about any recent travel and whether you have been around anyone who might be sick.
Can COVID-19 be prevented?
There are things you can do to reduce your chances of getting COVID-19. These steps are a good idea for everyone, especially as the infection is spreading very quickly. But they are extra important for people age 65 years or older or who have other health problems. To help slow the spread of infection:
- Good and frequent handwashing. Wet your hands first and then apply soap. Dial is one of the best antibacterial soaps on the market. Wash hands for a minimum of 20 seconds. Make sure you scrub between your fingers, fingertips, back of hands and fingernails.
- Keep your mouth moist and hydrated. Rinse your mouth and gargle often (can be with water) since the COVID-19 can enter thru the mouth.
- Use saline nasal spray throughout the day to keep your nose flushed and hydrated. Your nose and mouth are 2 of the primary entrance points for any virus.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially if you have not washed your hands.
- Covering your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing and throw away dirty tissues immediately; followed by WASHING YOUR HANDS.
- Avoid close contact with ill individuals (similar to the flu)
- Keep counter tops, keyboards, cell phones, etcetera clean to prevent cross contamination
- Only go to public places (grocery store, post office, movie theater, bank, etc) on an “as needed basis”, limit times to decrease potential exposure.
- Avoid dining in at restaurants; utilize drive thru, curb service and deliveries
- Avoid crowds. If you live in an area where there have been cases of COVID-19, try to stay home as much as you can. Even if you are healthy, limiting contact with other people can help slow the spread of disease. Experts call this “social distancing” (6 to 8 feet between yourself and another individual). If you do need to be around other people, be sure to wash your hands often and avoid contact when you can. For example, you can avoid handshakes, high fives and fist bumps; encourage others to do the same.
If someone in your home has COVID-19, there are additional things you can do to protect yourself and others:
- Keep the sick person away from others: The sick person should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom if possible. They should also eat in their own room.
- Use face masks: The sick person should wear a face mask when they are in the same room as other people. If you are caring for the sick person, you can also protect yourself by wearing a face mask when you are in the room. This is especially important if the sick person cannot wear a mask.
- Wash hands: Wash your hands with soap and water often (see above)
- Clean often: Here are some specific things that can help:
- Wear disposable gloves when you clean. It’s also a good idea to wear gloves when you have to touch the sick person’s laundry, dishes, utensils, or trash.
- Regularly clean things that are touched a lot. This includes counters, bedside tables, doorknobs, computers, phones, and bathroom surfaces.
What should I do if there is a COVID-19 outbreak in my area?
The best thing you can do to stay healthy is to wash your hands regularly, avoid close contact with people who are sick, and stay home if you are sick. In addition, to help slow the spread of disease, it’s important to follow any official instructions in your area about limiting contact with other people. Even if there are no cases of COVID-19 where you live, that could change in the future. STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK!
Rules and guidelines might be different in different areas. If officials do tell people in your area to stay home or avoid gathering with other people, it’s important to take this seriously and follow instructions as best you can. Even if you are not at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, you could still pass it along to others. Keeping people away from each other is one of the best ways to control the spread of the virus.
What can I do to cope with stress and anxiety?
It is normal to feel anxious or worried about COVID-19. You can take care of yourself, and your family, by trying to:
- Take breaks from the news
- Get regular exercise and eat healthy foods
- Try to find activities that you enjoy and can do in your home
- Stay in touch with your friends and family members
Keep in mind that most people do not get severely ill or die from COVID-19. While it helps to be prepared, and it’s important to do what you can to lower your risk and help slow the spread of the virus, try not to panic!