The New York Times

spoke

with doctors to create a one-of-a-kind guide to the symptoms and treatment of covid 2024.

The main recommendations of doctors are rest, plenty of fluids and appropriate medicines.

Symptoms of the disease

The most common symptoms of covid have not changed much since the beginning of the pandemic four years ago and remain practically the same.

These include fatigue, sore throat, nasal congestion, runny nose, headache, body aches and cough.

They are also relevant for the last dominant variant of the coronavirus, which is called JN.1.

Some people may develop conjunctivitis or problems with the gastrointestinal tract - nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

But such symptoms are rare.

According to experts, the most noticeable symptoms at the beginning of the pandemic — loss of sense of taste and smell — are now less common.

"The biggest change is that the symptoms are getting milder," said Dr. Amanda Casta of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Washington.

This happens because almost every person already has a certain immunity from vaccines, a previous infection, or both.

For most people now, covid passes easily, but for some it is still dangerous and even deadly.

In a country like the US, as of mid-February, there were more than 21,000 hospitalizations due to covid, and in the first incomplete two months of 2024, there were about 10,000 deaths related to covid-19.

Severe forms of the disease are now much less common than in the first years of the pandemic, "but we still see them," Stuart Ray, a professor of infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, told the publication.

People with weakened immune systems and co-morbidities, such as heart disease, diabetes and lung problems, are most likely to get it, according to Dr. Ray.

People over 65 are also at risk of severe infections.

Doctors also remind that since a mild form of covid can look like an ordinary cold or flu, it is important to check whether you have had contact with an infected person.

This is important in order to withstand the quarantine, which is now five days.

In the US, doctors advise self-isolation for five days after a positive test for the coronavirus and wearing a mask for another five days after quarantine.

In other countries, the recommendations may differ.

How and what to treat

It is enough for most people to self-isolate, limit physical activity, drink enough fluids and apply symptomatic treatment - that is, take medicine for fever, headache and sore throat, and gargle if necessary.

At the same time, doctors draw attention to the fact that now there are a number of anti-coronavirus drugs that significantly alleviate the disease.

If you start taking them in the first five days after the onset of symptoms, they will significantly relieve your condition.

Therefore, if you are an elderly person or you have chronic diseases, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible after contact with a sick person or a positive test.

It is also important to consult a doctor because some antiviral drugs have contraindications and can affect other medications you are taking.

Also, doctors draw attention to the fact that anti-coronavirus drugs are ineffective for young healthy people with strong immunity, so they are not recommended for them.

If you have a high temperature or body aches, you can take medicines based on ibuprofen.

You can also take over-the-counter cold and flu medications with anti-inflammatory properties or cough suppressants, although experts don't strongly recommend them because they don't work for everyone and can cause drowsiness.

When to seek medical help

You should call a doctor at home or call an ambulance if you feel shortness of breath (that is, you cannot breathe or you are breathing quickly and shallowly).

Then it is important to seek medical help immediately.

"What worries us the most is breathing," says Dr. Amanda Casta.

"This is the most alarming sign, because a person can get worse very quickly."

The doctor advises those who have breathing problems to go to the emergency department, not to the doctor.

Experts also say that you should consult a doctor if the patient experiences confusion or chest pain.

If the symptoms do not get better after a few days of the illness, or if they improve and then get worse again, this may be a sign of a secondary infection, such as pneumonia.

In this case, it is also necessary to seek medical help as soon as possible.