While we were equipping ourselves to fight COVID-19 with vaccination and started to imagine that we have finally got a grip on the virus, shocking reports of the virus undergoing mutations and producing new variants (with new symptoms) subsequently started to make rounds. We have already discussed the advent of the second wave in our last article. In this article, we will be discussing various symptoms in detail and also how we can manage the mild symptoms with first aid, and till we see a doctor, if necessary.
The symptoms of the new wave vary from red eyes/conjunctivitis, breathlessness, chest pain, diarrhea, nausea, and many more. But what is more shocking about this new mutant named B.1.617 is, that, unlike the virus in the first wave, which passes on from one human to another, here humans could be vulnerable to infected animals as well. Further, this mutant has three lineages B.1.617.1, B.1.617. 2, and B.1.617. 3. and this breakdown may bifurcate further in the days to come.
Since the exact causes of the mutations are nailed down to the environment, and the virus’ journey to bodies and places that give it a reason to reproduce new, powerful viruses, as such, many are blaming the UK and the South African viruses and the double mutant, the new virus, which is far too infectious than the one in the first wave. With a high R-value( number of people who can be infected from one person), vis-à-vis the first wave of coronavirus, where R –value had an infection rate of seven and nine people against every ten people, it is expected to be eleven for ten or even more than that in the second wave.
Further, as we see it is super powerful and far easily communicable, its resistance to slip and dodge immunity even in young people who are supposedly healthier otherwise is making it more dangerous and damaging to the infected and the carrier as well than the virus we had in the first wave.
We will begin with the management of mild symptoms at home including self-isolation.
Pneumonia: Pneumonia parades an array of symptoms like cough, phlegm, fever, chill, and difficulty in breathing. Besides, it also inflames air sacs and fills the lungs with fluid. It is life-threatening to infants, children, and people over 65. If you have the above symptoms, start with aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs first. Increasing your fluid intake and proper resting can also help you to relieve your strains. This will give you temporary relief, but if the condition becomes severe, see a doctor.
Bleeding from the nose: Epistaxis or nose bleeding occurs when blood vessel linings in the nose get injured and bleed due to many reasons, but in the case of coronavirus, sinusitis and cold are the main reasons. To manage it at home, sit upright and punch the nostrils; shutting them for 5 to 10 min can stop the nosebleed.
Gastrointestinal infection: If you have abdominal pain, blood in stool, diarrhea, or nausea, possibly you have been hit by the coronavirus. Drink fluids, eat small salty meals, and take potassium. Plant-based helpings like ginger/ apple/ cider/ vinegar/ basil can soothe your stomach and also avoid future infections. Avoid taking dairy products.
Sore throat: Does your throat go dry often and pain? You may be having pharyngitis. Drink extra cold liquids and fight dry air with a humidifier, slurp an ice pop, take herbal teas, honey, etc, and gargle with warm saltwater.
Cough: Is dry cough irritating you? You could be in trouble from the virus. Take liquids, cough drops, vaporisers, lozenges, and hot showers.
Loss of smell: Are you struggling to tell coffee from tea, or you can’t smell at all, it is a warning sign of coronavirus. Take an antihistamine, saline nasal drops, or a nasal steroid spray to manage it at home.
Loss of hearing: Are you facing difficulty in hearing? Hmm, you are probably in the grip of the virus. Try to focus and locate sounds, check the ear wax, and do meditation till you are cured of the virus.
Rashes, bluish discoloration of fingers and toes: Lack of oxygen can cause sudden rashes, bluish discoloration of fingers and toes. Try to breathe in some fresh air, switch on the ac, do breathing exercises as first aid, and then see the doctor for tests to determine the level of oxygen in your body and how it can be increased.
Nasal congestion: If you have a sinus, headache, stuffy or runny nose, you could have been hit by the virus. Use a humidifier or rinse the nostrils with saline. If the congestion is due to allergy, take an antihistamine.
Muscle soreness: If you experience soreness of muscles or muscle pain in any part of your body, time to check with a doctor. Try gentle stretching, muscle massage, rest, apply ice to relieve inflammation, and take pain-relief medicines like brufen etc.
Fatigue: Have you suddenly started to feel tired without any rhyme or reason, then the flu-like symptoms are an indicator that you could be suffering from COVID-19. Take vitamin supplements, eat a healthy diet, exercise and rest.
Dyspnea: If you are feeling tightness in the chest or you are constantly gasping for air because the infection has reduced oxygen supply in the lungs, which might further result in lung damage and in some cases even multiple organ damage, avoid smoking, dust, pollution areas, eat light and exercise.
Pink eye/conjunctivitis: Unlike normal conjunctivitis, it predominantly affects only one eye while the other eye may get affected slightly. Taking antihistamines, cold compressors, and using eye drops or ointments can help ameliorate your condition.
Black/yellow and white fungus infection: Mucormycosis/black fungus affects the sinuses, brain, and lungs, and can be life-threatening. Another fungus, yellow, attacks the body’s internal organs while the white affects the blood, heart, brain, eyes, bones, and other parts of the body. Use antifungal medicines or ointments on infection for first aid and then reach out to a doctor for help.
But, since this mutant with its super-powerful infectious nature is far easily communicable, a few questions arise in our mind regarding the vaccination which is our only hope to fight out this monster.
Whether we need to increase the number of jabs to tackle the new, much more powerful mutant. How long will the vaccination work and protect the inoculated? How do we ensure that the vaccine is effective?
According to the doctors, there is no need to increase the number of jabs. The current dosage of two shots is enough.
For the second question, the vaccine will protect the inoculated for at least 6-8 months and even beyond.
And answering the third question, whether the vaccine is effective or not, we can take a spike protein antibody test which costs between 500 INR. and 1,400, and which we must take after 2 weeks of the second jab, to determine whether antibodies produced in the body after the jabs are working.
Another test, the IgG antibody test called the immunoglobulin test, helps one understand if they have ever been infected with the virus. IgG in the body helps fight reinfection.
But despite vaccination, you still need to wear the mask, maintain social distancing, and use sanitizer. The public must continue to follow protocols like lifting lockdown in phases, avoiding large gatherings, and hospitals must upgrade their stock of medicines, vaccines, beds, and oxygen supplies.
According to the recent statistics, though daily deaths are still more than 4,000, and active cases continue to rise, the infection has slowed down. The R-value has dropped to 0.98 from 1.56 when it was last recorded.
The second wave which started in March peaked the number of cases to 3,91,000 in a day and the deaths to 4000 a day, and it has dropped marginally after the vaccination. 91,903 deaths were recorded in India this month. The expected median time is 2 weeks, that is, if a person tests positive, he will die in 15 days. And in the last one, 303,760 people have died in India. According to a report, India is the third country with maximum fatalities after America and Brazil.
Taking Care of Yourself in Pandemic
Our lifestyle has taken a toss in the lockdown. Immunity being the buzzword; let’s strengthen it by eating a healthy diet (rich in vitamin c, protein, and fiber), sleeping long hours, and indulging in physical activities/workouts. How about picking up a new hobby or reviving an old one to keep ourselves busy and happy? Bills are due, let’s check some online jobs? And don’t forget to wear a face mask, using sanitizer, and maintaining social distance. Most importantly, stay connected with friends and family on social media for new updates on the virus and live a hygienic, kick-ass, and positive life.
As Scientists predict that the second wave will taper off by July end, we look at the bright side of life.
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