Is That Cough COVID-19? (Or Is It the Same One I’ve Had for Years from COPD?)
Editorial Note: This information is based on the guidelines we have as of 03/24/2020 and are subject to change as more information and knowledge is provided.
Completely changed the way we live
We bought antibacterial wipes. We wash our hands for 40 seconds anytime we sneeze or pick up a newspaper or the mail or any material that may have been held by someone else’s hands. We try to remember not to touch our faces. We practice social-distancing. We wave at our neighbors as they drive by! The one time I Ieft the house this week to see a couple of friends we “elbow-bumped” instead of shaking hands. Covid-19 has completely changed the way we live!
You’ve probably seen some of the photos - an empty Times Square in New York City, 2 passengers on a huge cruise ship headed for the Bahamas, 3 passengers on a domestic U.S. flight. And no travel between the U.S. and Europe. I’ve voluntarily “self-isolated” (except for that short visit with my friends). It’s not bad. Kind of boring to tell you the truth. I haven’t started talking to myself. Yet.
Tricky for COPD patients
But the difficult thing is that many of the Covid-19 symptoms are common occurrences for most of us with COPD. Shortness of breath – a daily occurrence for me. Coughing – also a daily occurrence for yours truly.
So – that’s where the problem begins for me and some others who have COPD that I’ve spoken with. And not wanting to over-react, I continued to search for symptoms and advice. In Ireland, the Health Services Executive (similar to the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary) is particularly focused on any patient who is experiencing a “new” fever or a “new” cough.1
To me, as quirky as it may sound, that’s a bit of a relief since it’s been many, many years since I’ve had any kind of fever and my cough is the same one I’ve had for years. I’m pretty confident that I would feel a fever coming on and, at that point, call my doctor or, if she is not available, head to my local hospital’s Emergency Room for examination and treatment.
A dry cough
At a press conference on March 9th, Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead of the World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Program, said that along with a fever, “You'll have a dry cough. This is what the majority of individuals will have."2 Again – relief of a kind because my coughing, when it happens, which has become less frequent, is usually moist or accompanied by phlegm. As many of the symptoms are respiratory, it is important that you monitor your symptoms carefully, look out for additional symptoms like those above, and contact your doctor if you have any concerns.
A new virus
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus. Scientists and healthcare professionals from all over the world are working together and sharing what they have learned to develop medications to treat the virus and vaccines to protect people from developing it.
This kind of process traditionally takes a long time but many people are currently working together on these two aspects – treatment and prevention – and it may be the case that treatments and a vaccine get developed quickly, with important drug approval processes to follow, all of which will be fast-tracked.
If you are feeling hot and cold, shivering, and achy bones, you should phone your doctor and let them know. Hopefully, they will guide you through what happens next. You will likely be tested for the virus and be requested to self-isolate until the results come back. So, get some good DVD’s and some good books if your library hasn’t already closed like mine. I think we’re in for a semi-long haul.
Which of the following best describes your COPD diagnosis?