Pay Attention to these 5 Warning Signs That COVID-19 Is in Your Lungs
Doctors have stated that the coronavirus causing COVID-19 is a master of disguise. People can have it and at the same time have no idea that they are infected. Since the virus targets the lungs, some people, unfortunately, end up in the Intensive Care Unit on a ventilator due to difficulties with breathing.
It would be beneficial for you to know how to recognize certain warning signs of COVID-19. If you are witnessing any respiratory conditions then it would be best to seek professional help as soon as possible. Respiratory conditions can get worse at an alarming pace which is why seeking medical assistance promptly would be the best course of action.
You need to be aware of the severity of your infection
Being infected by COVID-19 can result in the episode lasting up to 2 weeks in mild cases or 3-6 weeks in critical or severe cases. There are 5 groups into which the severity of COVID-19 infection has been divided:
- Mild disease
- Moderate disease
- Severe disease
- Critical—Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)
It was shown that 81% of COVID-19 patients in Wuhan where the virus originated had mild disease. Out of these numbers, 14% of the infected developed severe pneumonia and around 5% required critical care.
When the lungs are failing, it means that people can pass from the mild and moderate phase of the disease to severe or critical. While mild and moderate conditions can be managed at home, people with severe or critical disease need to be hospitalized.
These following 5 symptoms can be regarded as clinical warning signs of COVID-19 which can tell you if your condition is worsening. These signs help in determining if your infection is passing from moderate to critical severity.
1Lips turning blue
A serious sign of poor lung function which requires urgent medical attention is a condition called cyanosis. The signs of cyanosis can be seen when your lips, fingers and toes start turning blue. Oxygen is delivered to your heart and to the rest of your body when you breathe in. When you breathe out the lungs expel the carbon dioxide from your body. But, when you are infected with COVID-19 which causes severe pneumonia, your body becomes oxygen deficit and even finds it difficult to get rid of the carbon dioxide.
Your skin has a reddish/pink tinge due to the cherry-red color of well-oxygenated blood. But, due to the darker color of deoxygenated blood, the skin appears navy blue when light reflects on it. This bluish tinge can be vividly seen on the lips, on your fingertips and toes, and even in your nail beds.
2Breathing starts to become very difficult
Around 31% of patients from Wuhan reported breathlessness from their initial experience. Not being able to breathe is a frightening experience. The most important clinical indicator is the degree of breathlessness which determines how severe your condition is.
Normal adults have a respiratory rate of 12 breaths (breathing in and out) per minute. If it is more than 20 breaths per minute, it is considered faster breathing and is called tachypnoea. Your normal daily activities can get affected by the inability to breathe. If the COVID-19 infection progresses, you may even feel more breathless. This may cause you to have difficulties doing anything such as- you find it hard to eat or drink and you cannot even finish a sentence without taking a few breaths, when you have to take the stairs or do a physical activity you feel yourself going out of breath very quickly.
The strain from breathing causes the neck muscles to draw up the chest and suck air into the lungs. It sometimes even flares up the nostrils. People with this condition have reportedly complained about pain in their chest, back, or stomach because of the strain from breathing. These clinical warning signs of COVID-19 indicate that you need to get urgent help because the disease is passing from its moderate state to a more severe infection.
A cough is the most common symptom in up to 82% of COVID-19 infected patients. The cough is typically dry and irritating. It has been described in the early stages of the disease, by experts to appear in the form of coughing episodes which tend to last for an hour. It usually happens for 3 or more coughing bouts in 24 hours.
Coughing is basically a reflex action which is meant for protecting your body from invasion by foreign particles like bacteria and viruses. This coughing is caused by inflammation in your airways, so when the lungs are inflamed, most of the mucus and cellular debris is expelled by coughing.
Thus, coughing helps in eliminating the infection from your body even though it can be very exhausting. Moreover, it interrupts the oxygen supply to the lungs in rare cases case fractured ribs or minute brain hemorrhages. When you notice your cough getting worse, take it as a warning sign that the infection is progressing and may lead to severe pneumonia.