By: Ana Altchek, Follow South Jersey Contributing Writer
SOUTH JERSEY — With new mutations constantly emerging and the current BA.2 sub-variant dominating most infections, COVID continues to pervade the population on a national and local level.
Prior to this past winter, infected patients had to isolate themselves for ten days from the onset of symptoms, or after testing positive if they were asymptomatic. For many patients, this requirement was overly lengthy and extraneous. With that said, it allowed truly sick patients the time they needed to recover and provided a standard in the workplace for recovery. Some workplaces that operated in-person, such as film productions or government facilities, even gave two weeks of paid time off if patients were infected. On the other hand, some patients who worked hourly wage jobs or relied on tips were forced to be out of work for 10-14 days despite recovering sooner.
Now that the isolation period has been reduced to five days, patients are expected to recover at a speedier pace and get back to normalcy quickly. While people should be considerate of those who are sicker and need more time, COVID is no longer regarded as an excuse to take a vacation, postpone an event for two weeks, or avoid other kinds of obligations. Thus, the faster patients can recover, the better they’ll be able to transition back to normalcy without unnecessary delay.
Infectious disease specialists at Jefferson Health, Dr. Mark Condoluci, says that there’s a few ways to promote a speedier recovery and prevent elongating the sickness. The most typical recommendations include resting, optimizing nutrition and trying to decrease any other stressors in the patient’s life at that time.
“The healthier the food, the better,” Condoluci says. “[Foods] that have electrolytes like energy drinks”.
Despite this recommendation, Condoluci notes that people with diabetes should be cautious with energy drink consumption because of the high sugar content. Condoluci also points out that one factor that might be overlooked is ensuring that underlying chronic diseases are under control. For example, if someone is diabetic, it would be best to have diabetes optimized prior to infection and certainly controlled while infected by COVID.
With that in mind, in the new age of COVID, patients with underlying diseases and conditions should take preventative measures as long as the virus is present in any capacity, to make sure they are not at an increased risk if they happen to get COVID.
Even though these tips might help promote a less lengthy sickness, studies and patient testimonies have proven that like any other virus, there are sometimes unexpected and lasting side effects that can’t necessarily be predicted or prevented.
In the case of the current pandemic, these lingering symptoms are now referred to as Long COVID. The symptoms of this extension of the virus may include loss of taste and smell, brain fog and lethargy. Despite the Omicron strain being less severe than previous forms, especially for those who are vaccinated, patients still experience these phenomena. Since the virus is still somewhat new, there’s no current dominant explanation for why some people may experience longer and more severe side effects like this.
Condoluci says that the next best way to lessen the risk of a severe COVID case is by having significant antibodies present. Not only are vaccinated people less likely to catch COVID if exposed, but the chances of them experiencing a mild version of the virus is much more likely.
Lastly, Condoluci mentions that some people who have recently been infected with COVID might want to consider talking to their providers at the onset of the virus because there are medications that can decrease severity if given at the right time.
Condoluci reminds residents that the best way to address COVID is not to get it in the first place. Even though it certainly won’t hurt to abide by his recovery suggestions, the only way to completely mitigate a lengthy infection and potential lasting effects is to avoid contracting it altogether. People can do this by situational awareness and simply taking a commonsense approach by avoiding densely populated areas and utilizing masks.
Even though it seems like many people in the area have picked up seasonal colds that aren’t COVID, it’s best to stay away from people who are sick regardless of whether it’s confirmed COVID or not. While the common cold isn’t dangerous for most healthy individuals, it can still weaken the immune system and make people more susceptible to catching other illnesses.
For more information on vaccination sites and qualification, please visit https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/vaccine.
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