Coronaviruses: All You Need To Know

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Update Date 02/06/2020 . 1 min read
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What is a Coronavirus?

Generally speaking, a coronavirus is a type of virus that infects animals, from peacocks to pangolins. While there are many kinds of coronaviruses, only seven of them can cause disease in humans. A coronavirus infection affects humans in two ways: a lung infection (common cold) or a gut infection resulting in diarrhea.

The most recent kind of coronavirus, for example, is called COVID-19. It is responsible for a global outbreak of dangerous—and often fatal—respiratory illnesses.

What are the Different Kinds of Coronaviruses?

  • 229E – A species of coronavirus that infects humans and bats. It is among the kinds of coronaviruses that cause the common cold
  • NL63 – A type of coronavirus discovered in Holland in 2004. It primarily affects children and those with compromised immune systems.
  • OC43 – The most common human coronavirus in many parts of the world. It can infect both the upper and lower respiratory tract, but is not usually deadly.
  • HKU1 – Another of the more common kinds of coronaviruses that mostly affect children under 5 years of age. Studies display a low incidence of infection among adults.
  • SARS CoV – A type of coronavirus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). First reported in Asia in 2002, it quickly spread across two dozen countries, infecting over 8,000 people, and killing 774.
  • MERS-CoV – First identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012, this type of coronavirus isn’t easily transmitted. Close contact, such as unprotected contact in healthcare settings, are associated with outbreaks in the Middle East and Korea.
  • SARS-CoV-2 First surfacing in China in December 2019, this type of coronavirus is new, easily transmittable, and considerably more deadly. As of April 2020, it has killed up to 75,945 people all over the world.

Are Coronaviruses Deadly?

4 out of 7 of the kinds of coronaviruses that affect humans are largely non-deadly. At most, they cause seasonal flus, or the common cold. However, any of these kinds of coronaviruses may cause serious respiratory illnesses when combined with underlying health or immune issues.

Signs and Symptoms

All seven kinds of coronaviruses cause infections in the upper respiratory tract. Symptoms include:

  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Fever
  • Headaches

However, coronaviruses have been known on occasion to cause lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia. These complications largely affect infants, as well as adults that are immunocompromised, or have underlying illnesses.

Three kinds of coronaviruses that are originally animal infections pose more dangerous risks to humans. Their more specific symptoms are detailed below:

SARS Symptoms

  • Fever higher than 38 C
  • Dry cough
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath

These symptoms usually manifest after about a week of incubation. However, the SARS-CoV has been contained, with no known cases as of 2020.

MERS Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pneumonia
  • Kidney failure

These symptoms begin to appear 5-6 days after exposure.

COVID-19 Symptoms

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms typically appear around 5-14 days after exposure.

When should I see my doctor?

Warning signs for coronavirus infections include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Disorientation
  • Bluish lips/face
  • Persistent pressure or pain in the chest

Causes

The various kinds of coronaviruses are classified due to their spiky appearance. These spikes contain proteins that latch onto human cells. It then transforms, and proceeds to infiltrate the human cell with the virus’ own genetic material.

The new SARS-CoV-2 virus prefers to grow in type II lung cells, which are responsible for helping air enter the lungs. The immune system panics and proceeds to indiscriminately invade and destroy lung tissue in an attempt to eliminate the virus.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus seems to predominantly affect the older population. In reality, this is only the case because older patients tend to have underlying issues or chronic health illnesses. These conditions run the gamut of cardiovascular, kidney, lung diseases and diabetes, to immune compromisations, and cancer.

Transmission

Various kinds of coronaviruses are generally transmitted from person to person via droplets from the nose or mouth. Coronaviruses may continue to live on surfaces that humans touch, then proceed to transfer to their eyes, noses, or mouths. 

The Sars-CoV-2 is especially dangerous because it is spread quickly and easily compared to other kinds of coronaviruses.

Diagnosis and Treatment

How are Different Kinds of Coronaviruses Diagnosed and Tested?

Respiratory secretions are tested to determine the specific virus causing symptoms. However, testing positive for the other kinds of coronavirus does not equate to being positive with COVID-19.

Is There a Treatment for Coronavirus Infections?

There is no known cure for the many kinds of coronaviruses. Treatments for coronavirus infections involve supportive care, managing symptoms, as well as containment and mitigation.

Concerned about your symptoms? Contact your doctor or primary healthcare provider.

Lifestyle Changes and Home Remedies

What Helps with Different Kinds of Coronaviruses?

While there is currently no vaccine to protect against the many kinds of coronaviruses, here are some ways to relieve symptoms:

  • Pain and fever medications
  • Warm showers
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Rest

The best cure, however, seems to be prevention. Here are some ways to prevent becoming infected with coronaviruses:

  • Practice proper hygiene
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with anyone displaying symptoms

When sick, prevent the spread of infection by doing the following:

  • Self-quarantine
  • Avoiding close contact with others
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing, sniffling, sneezing, or speaking
  • Disinfect high-traffic objects and surfaces

As with a majority of illnesses, prevention is the best kind of cure. The global pandemic spread by the SARS-CoV-2 has currently shaken the modern world, and as of April 2020, there seems to be no end in sight.

Practicing social distancing, self-quarantining, and fastidious personal hygiene practices may be what protects your family and community from infection. Consult with your doctor, local government units, and reputable health sources to stay updated, informed, and safe.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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