Posted August 25, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 5 min read

COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. COVID-19 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness, including death. The best preventive measures include getting vaccinated, wearing a mask during times of high transmission, staying 6 feet apart, washing hands often and avoiding sick people.


  • Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause respiratory illness in humans.

  • They are called corona because of crown-like spikes on the surface of the virus.

  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and the common cold are examples of coronaviruses that cause illness in humans.

Risk factors

Persons at greatest risk of contracting COVID-19 include those who:

  • Live in or have recently traveled to any area with ongoing active spread.

  • Have had close contact with a person who has a laboratory-confirmed or a suspected case of the COVID-19 virus. Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.

  • Are over the age of 60 with pre-existing medical conditions or a weakened immune system.


  • SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, enters your body through your mouth, nose or eyes (directly from the airborne droplets or from the transfer of the virus from your hands to your face).

  • It then travels to the back of your nasal passages and mucous membrane in the back of your throat.

  • It attaches to cells there, begins to multiply and moves into lung tissue.

  • From there, the virus can spread to other body tissues.


  • Fever or chills.

  • Cough.

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

  • Tiredness.

  • Muscle or body aches.

  • Headaches.

  • New loss of taste or smell.

  • Sore throat.

  • Congestion or runny nose.

  • Nausea or vomiting.

  • Diarrhea.


COVID-19 is diagnosed with a laboratory test. Your healthcare provider may collect a sample of your saliva or swab your nose or throat to send for testing.

When should I be tested for the coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Call your healthcare provider if you:

  • Feel sick with fever, cough or have difficulty breathing.

  • Have been in close contact with a person known or suspected to have COVID-19.

  • Your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your symptoms and tell you if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

Is it possible to test negative for coronavirus and still be infected with it?

Yes, it’s possible. There are several reasons for “false negative” test results meaning you really do have COVID-19 although the test result says you don’t.

Reasons for a false negative COVID-19 test result include:

  • You were tested too early in the course of illness. The virus hasn’t multiplied in your body to the level that it could be detected by the test.

  • The swab didn’t get a good specimen. You or the healthcare personnel may not have swabbed deeply enough in your nasal cavity to collect a good sample. There could also be less likely handling errors and transportation errors.

  • The test itself was not sensitive or specific enough to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Sensitivity refers to the ability of the test to detect the smallest amount of virus.


Depending on the severity of your COVID symptoms, you may need:

  • Supplemental oxygen (given through tubing inserted into your nostrils).

  • Some people may benefit from an infusion of monoclonal antibodies.

  • Antiviral medications may reduce the risk of hospitalization and death in certain patients with COVID-19.

  • Mechanical ventilation (oxygen through a tube inserted down your trachea). You are given medications to keep you comfortable and sleepy as long as you’re receiving oxygen through a ventilator.

  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). You continue to receive treatment while a machine pumps your blood outside your body. It takes over the function of your body’s lungs and heart.

At home treatment

If you have mild COVID-19 symptoms, you can likely manage your health at home. Follow these tips:

  • If you have a fever, drink plenty of fluids (water is best), get lots of rest and take acetaminophen (Tylenol).

  • If you have a cough, lie on your side or sit up (don’t lie on your back). Add a teaspoon of honey to your hot tea or hot water (don’t give honey to children under 1 year of age). Gargle with salt water.

  • Call your healthcare provider or pharmacist for advice about over-the-counter, comfort care products like cough suppressants and cough drops/lozenges. Have a friend or family member pick up any needed medicines. You must stay at home.

  • If you’re anxious about your breathing, try to relax. Take slow deep breaths in through your nose and slowly release through pursed lips (like you’re are slowly blowing out a candle).

  • If you’re having trouble breathing, call 911.


  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds especially before eating and preparing food, after using the bathroom, after wiping your nose, and after coming in contact with someone who has a cold.

  • Wear a multilayered cloth facemask that fits snugly on your face and covers your mouth, nose and chin as recommended by the CDC.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent the spread of viruses from your hands.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing and coughing or sneeze and cough into your sleeve. Throw the tissue in the trash. Wash your hands afterward. Never cough or sneeze into your hands!

  • Avoid close contact (within 6 feet) with those who have coughs, colds or are sick. Stay home if you’re sick.

  • If you’re prone to sickness or have a weakened immune system, stay away from large crowds of people. Follow the directions of your healthcare authorities, especially during outbreaks.

  • Clean frequently used surfaces (such as doorknobs and countertops) with a virus-killing disinfectant.

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