What to Know About COVID-19 Right Now

Posted in Uncategorized | November 21, 2023

As winter nears, thoughts about staying healthy are on everyone’s minds, especially with increased COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. As COVID-19 becomes part of what’s expected with annual illnesses, variants are now part of the conversation.

Luckily, boosters, treatment, and CDC recommendations are still helping to keep many out of hospital. Keep reading to learn more about COVID-19, the latest variant, symptoms, boosters, and tips for prevention to keep you at your healthiest this year.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. It can affect multiple organs in your body, including your airways and lungs.

The symptoms of COVID-19 usually appear anywhere from 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

What Makes COVID-19 Different Now?

All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, naturally change or mutate over time. The viruses with changes are known as variants. Mutations can impact a virus in the following ways:

  • How contagious it becomes
  • Its severity
  • How it responds to treatment

The latest variant of SARS-CoV-2, called BA.2.86, was recently discovered in samples from people in Israel and Denmark. It’s now in the U.S. and was found in both wastewater samples and humans.

The Newest COVID-19 Variant Strain

Scientists are especially concerned because BA.2.86, nicknamed Pirola, has many mutations compared to previous versions of SARS-CoV-2. Pirola had over 30 mutations.

Because of this, health authorities, including the World Health Organization, are closely monitoring this variant. The new variant has yet to drive the recent spike in cases and hospitalizations in the U.S.

So far, less than 100 cases of BA.2.86 have been reported. There is no proof that Pirola is causing more severe illness in patients with COVID-19.

However, this evaluation could easily change as more scientific data develops. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that BA.2.86 might be more capable of causing infection if you’ve previously had COVID-19.

According to the CDC, the current tests used to detect COVID-19 and the treatments used for COVID-19 seem to be effective with Pirola.

COVID-19 Symptoms to Watch Out For

Even with a new COVID-19 variant spreading, it appears that symptoms of COVID-19 are the same. Be on the lookout for the following symptoms:

  • A cough
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills or fever
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Runny or congested nose
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of sense of taste or smell
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath

Like other variants of COVID-19, these symptoms overlap with respiratory illnesses like RSV, the common cold, and the flu. If you’re sick, stay home and stay away from others as much as possible until your symptoms subside.

If you have COVID-19, wear a mask and take a COVID-19 test. Avoid others for at least five days after the onset of your symptoms, and you’re no longer testing positive for COVID-19.

Importance of Getting COVID-19 Booster Shots

COVID-19 is still spreading and can make you very ill. Here are some benefits of getting COVID-19 booster shots if you haven’t already.

Bolsters Your Immune System

Vaccine protection from COVID-19 may only last for a few months. Part of this is because the COVID-19 virus is constantly mutating.

Those mutations may make the virus spread faster. Your immune system, conditioned to respond to previous variants, might also find it harder to recognize and fight off the virus. Getting boosters can strengthen dwindling immunity.

Ample Protection

New boosters more closely match presently circulating variants compared to previous COVID-19 vaccines. As a result, these boosters have a higher chance of reducing severe illness and hospitalization.

Reduce Chances of Developing Long COVID-19

Long COVID-19 refers to continuing, recurring, or new symptoms that linger after the initial COVID-19 infection. It can last for weeks, months, or even years.

Anyone who gets COVID-19 can develop long COVID-19. However, it often occurs in people who have had severe COVID-19.

A booster dose can ramp up your immune response and offer relief for some patients with long COVID-19. Also, your risk of developing long COVID-19 increases every time you’re infected with the COVID-19 virus.

If you have had COVID-19 in the past and haven’t had long COVID-19, the best way to minimize your risk of reinfection is by getting boosters.

How to Keep from Getting Sick

In addition to getting boosters, taking other precautions is equally essential. Reducing the risk of COVID-19 infections also lowers your chances of developing long COVID-19.

The CDC recommends other precautions to protect yourself and others against COVID-19:

  • Avoid people who are sick
  • Practice social distancing
  • Maintain good hand hygiene by always washing your hands after using the bathroom
  • Improve ventilation 
  • Stay at home if you’re sick
  • Avoid crowded indoor spaces
  • Sneeze or cough into your elbow if you don’t have tissue
  • Wear a quality mask that fits well over your mouth and nose if asked
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are used often, like cutlery, doorknobs, and countertops
  • Seek treatment if your symptoms don’t go away

How an ENT Specialist Can Help If You Have COVID-19

The painful cough, fatigue, body aches, loss of taste or smell, and other frustrating symptoms of COVID-19 can take a toll on you. For some people, these symptoms may persist long after they’ve recovered from the virus.

That’s where one of the talented ENT specialists at Specialty Care Institute can help. Our ENT specialists can monitor your symptoms and provide ways to alleviate your pain and discomfort.

Get Help for Your Symptoms

COVID-19 enters your body through your ears, nose, or throat. If you have concerns about COVID-19 or getting infected, the expert ENT specialists at Specialty Care Institute are here.

We can help you recover from COVID-19 and return to living your life. Do you have stubborn symptoms of COVID-19 that have lasted weeks on end? Schedule your appointment at Specialty Care Institute at one of our locations in Barrington, Elgin, Hoffman Estates, and Arlington Heights, IL, today! Don’t let COVID-19 run your life any longer; get the help you need!