Stay home, stay well.
As physicians we are trained to practice evidence based medicine where there are known standards of care and protocols we follow.
With this global pandemic of COVID-19, medicine and healthcare doesn’t work the normal way. None of us have ever seen or treated COVID-19 until recently. Information changes daily. A physician colleague across the world will comment on a medication that may or may not work or a risk factor that may or may not make things worse and the information will travel. Sometimes that information is accurate and sometimes it is not. Typically, doctors like to wait until our big name journals discuss treatments and risk factors before passing that information on to patients. On 3/18/2020, the World Health Organization came out and confirmed some of the "doctor chatter" and stated that NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin) may make COVID-19 worse. Then 3/19/2020, the same World Health Organization backtracked and said that may not be true. (Either way, acetaminophen/Tylenol is considered safe for COVID-19.)
So, here is what we are doing with what we do know:
How is the test done?
We do have tests in Rock Hill, but the supply is very limited. The test is done by using a thin swab and inserting it inside each nostril deeply, until it curves downward toward the mouth. That swab is then placed in a vial that has special fluid. The test is frozen and sent to LabCorp. We don’t get results back for about 5 days.
Unfortunately, we do not have the ability to test everyone right now.
Who might qualify to be tested right now?
Patients with high fever, cough, and shortness of breath Patients at risk (lung issues, heart disease, decreased immune system) who are having symptoms
What do I do if I have symptoms but can’t get tested?
We are asking that if you do have symptoms you behave as if you actually do have the disease. We should all be practicing "social distancing" and staying in our homes as much as possible. If you have symptoms, you should not go to work. If your symptoms are mild, the treatment doesn’t change if you get tested or not. We treat with rest, tylenol for fevers and muscle aches, and drinking plenty of fluids.
If you have any symptoms, we want to know so we can help direct your care. Dr. Pennington and Dr. Singhi will be checking in with patients until their symptoms improve. Our goal is to keep as many people out of the emergency room and hospital as possible. Know that you can reach out to your doctor easily and get reassurance and advice.
Remember, whether you get tested or not, and whether you are positive or not, your treatment doesn’t change if your symptoms are mild.
I heard on the news about a medication that can treat COVID-19. Should I take it?
Chloroquine (treats malaria) and Hydroxychloroquine (treats autoimmune disease) is currently being studied as a treatment for COVID-19. The patients in the study are very sick and are hospitalized. Our current nation-wide supplies of these medications are not large. Many patients in the country use hydroxychloroquine (otherwise known as plaquenil) to treat their lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and mixed connective tissue disease. There are potential serious risks to being on these medications. It is not currently recommended to use these medications to prevent COVID-19 or to treat mild symptoms.
So what do I do?
It is very hard to just stay in place and wait. It is hard for the doctors as well. We want a way to fix this. We want to make everyone better. But staying in and waiting is what is best right now.
Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle by getting enough sleep, eating a well balanced diet, and drinking plenty of water.
When possible, go outside in your yard or take a walk. (Just make sure you are practicing social distancing while doing so.)
Pick up the phone and call or video chat your friends and family. Think of something you can do that can positively impact the lives of others. It may be as simple as commenting on someone’s post online in a positive manner.
Consider learning something new. That guitar in the corner you’ve been wanting to learn how to play? Now's the time. There are people all over the world offering free tutorials through YouTube on how to play instruments, how to draw, etc.
If you have access to N95 face masks, consider donating them to be distributed to healthcare workers on the front line. Bandanas are not sufficient protection. Let’s get through this together.