(Photo: Pavel Danilyuk/Ilustrativa/Pexels)

It’s been 4 years since COVID-19 pandemic and things look different these days. At this point, most of us have had COVID-19 at least once. But the virus is still present in our community, and the risk of multiple rounds of illness is real. I wanted to share some updated information to help you navigate COVID in 2024.  

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 have not changed much since the start of the pandemic, even with different variants. These include sore throat, congestion, fatigue, body aches, cough, and headache. All or any of these symptoms alone can be COVID. Some people might also experience stomach issues, like nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea, but these issues continue to be less common today. Loss of taste or smell, which was reported at a higher rate in the beginning of the pandemic, appears to be less common these days as well.  

According to national data, what we are seeing now is that generally, people are having milder symptoms. This is likely because a lot of people have some pre-existing immunity because of vaccines, or because they already had COVUD, or both. However, although COVID may be milder for most of us, it can be very dangerous and even fatal for some people. As of mid-February, more than 20,000 people were hospitalized due to serious complications from COVID and about 10,000 COVID-related deaths have been reported. People who are getting very sick from COVID usually have underlying health problems, like diabetes, breathing or lung problems and heart disease. Older people over the age of 65 are also at higher risk for severe illness. 

Since mild COVID can look like a cold or the flu, it’s important to test yourself so you know your status. This is especially important if you are around anyone who could get really sick from COVID, so you can take precautions like isolating yourself.  

For treatment, the antiviral pill Paxlovid can be effective against severe COVID-19, even helping to reduce the risk of death. Paxlovid is not recommended for everyone, as it can interact with some medications. If you are at higher risk of severe illness and you have symptoms or test positive, you should contact your doctor to see if you are eligible and to get a prescription for Paxlovid. For most people, COVID can be managed at home with over-the counter treatments, rest, and hydration. If you are experiencing difficulty breathing, like you can’t catch your breath, you should seek professional medical care right away. If your symptoms don’t improve after a couple days or if you get better and then feel worse, you should call your doctor to find out if you have a secondary infection, like pneumonia. Finally, don’t forget to stay updated with your COVID vaccines.  


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