The coronaviruses family includes many different viruses that can lead to respiratory infection. Many coronaviruses only cause symptoms of the common cold, while others can cause more severe diseases which can be fatal in certain circumstances.
A new coronavirus was discovered in China in January 2020. This later became known as SARS-CoV-2 and is the cause of the disease we now refer to as COVID-19. The virus leads to respiratory infections and can result in anything from mild symptoms to severe illness and, in rare cases, death.
Some people can contract COVID-19 without developing symptoms. Hospitalisation, intensive care and death are more likely among the elderly and persons with underlying illnesses, especially the elderly with underlying illnesses, but it can also affect persons who have no known risk factors.
At the hospital
You will be screened for COVID-19 upon arrival at the hospital. This consists of answering some questions that will help the hospital assess your situation before you can be admitted to the COVID ward. Some questions you will be asked:
Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19? Do you have a respiratory infection, with one of these symptoms: Coughing, shortness of breath or fever? Do you have a fever and do not know the cause? Experiencing diarrhoea and/or vomiting?
You will be sent to the COVID clarification ward if you have not been tested for COVID-19 yet.
A medical practitioner wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) will use a swab to collect samples from the back of your pharynx by holding it there for about 5 seconds. The same swab is then carefully fed into your nasal cavity until it reaches the end and held there for approximately 5 seconds. The test is not painful, but you may experience discomfort inside the nasal cavity.
Your current state of health will determine where you will await the test result.
Most patients will not be admitted to the hospital if they have the opportunity for being monitored at their residence. Shortness of breath is the most critical symptom in assessing whether you need to stay at the hospital. If you are sent home, please contact the hospital if your breathing or general health deteriorates to any degree.
You will be admitted to solitary confinement at the bed ward if you test positive for COVID-19 and require hospitalisation. Several patients diagnosed with COVID-19 will share an isolation room; so-called cohort isolation.
Only medical staff who are directly involved in treatment are granted access to these rooms.
Strict restrictions are in place at the hospital for visitors. If a visit cannot be avoided, the department/ward in which the patient was admitted must be contacted by phone before arrival, so the necessary infection control measures can be implemented.
Vaccination provides strong protection against the disease if you are fully vaccinated. The purpose of coronavirus vaccination is to prevent illness or make the course of the disease milder. Vaccination usually results in no or mild side effects.
If you are at a high risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, it may be appropriate for you to receive treatment with tablets. These tablets, called Paxlovid, reduce the risk of severe illness. If you are treated at home, you can obtain the tablets through your general practitioner or another healthcare provider.
The general approach to treatment consists of fever-reducing medication, oxygen supply and intravenous fluid therapy as needed. Patients with low blood oxygen levels may benefit from immunosuppressive treatment with a corticosteroid medication. Most patients will also receive treatment to reduce the risk of blood clots. The use of a ventilator (respirator) is considered for critically ill patients in the intensive care unit.
Respirator treatment is made available to COVID-19 patients who develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
A respirator is a machine that breathes for the patient.
Most respirators push air into the lungs, either at a predetermined frequency (controlled ventilation) or only when the patient tries to inhale (assisted ventilation). The inhalation stage is followed by an exhalation stage, where the lungs are given time to empty.
Your general health must improve significantly before you are discharged from the hospital and you no longer need extra oxygen.
Your doctor will inform you about what applies to your specific case before you are discharged. It's common for it to take several weeks to months before you feel completely well again after COVID-19. Rehabilitation may be necessary for some individuals.
The course of recovery after COVID-19 varies from person to person. Some people take time to regain their strength. After being discharged from the hospital, many people find that their daily life can be a bit challenging, especially in the beginning.
It is normal to experience one or more of these symptoms after a viral infection:
- Fatigue (fatigue).
- Impaired memory and concentration.
- Dry cough and headaches.
- Pain in the bones and muscles, often around the chest where the respiratory muscles attach.
- Shortness of breath and the need to take breaks during activity.
- Reduced fitness.
- Palpitations and irregular pulse.
Early Activity Recommendations:
- Take walks; it's better to have two short sessions than one long one. Gradually increase the length and intensity as your fitness improves.
- Consider light weight training with short sessions, such as 4 sets of 4 repetitions (4x4).
- Engage in activities like Yoga, Tai Chi, or dancing at home for enjoyment.
- Listen to your body and don't push yourself to your maximum heart rate at the beginning.
- Remember that daily activity is a form of exercise.
Additional Self-Help Tips:
- Continue to use the mini-PEP (positive expiratory pressure) device you received at the hospital.
- Use lip breathing (breathe in slowly through your nose and exhale through nearly closed lips, as if you were trying to blow out a candle).
- When experiencing a coughing fit, try to cough with your mouth closed, drink fluids, or try a lozenge.
During the day, try lying on your stomach. If this is uncomfortable, roll a blanket lengthwise and lie halfway over it (similar to the recovery position). You can also try sleeping on your stomach at night.
If your symptoms persist for more than 3 months, contact your primary care physician.