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The Kent variant engulfing the UK does not appear to produce more deadly symptoms than the previous strain but it has emphasised the symptoms of COVID-19. That’s because the variant is highly transmissible, which means more people are likely to be symptomatic if they catch the mutation. The symptoms fall into different categories and it is vital to acknowledge these distinctions because they call for different responses.
If you have mild symptoms, such as a new, continuous cough and a loss of smell, you are expected to self-isolate and request a test.
However, health bodies have highlighted a number of emergency warning signs that require you to seek urgent attention.
Self-isolating when you should be seeking help could be a fatal error.
What are the emergency warning signs?
According to the Mayo Clinic, emergency signs and symptoms can include:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent chest pain or pressure
- Inability to stay awake
- New confusion
- Blue lips or face.
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“If you have emergency COVID-19 signs and symptoms, seek care immediately,” advises the health body.
“Let your doctor know if you have other chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease or lung disease,” it adds.
“During the pandemic, it’s important to make sure health care is available for those in greatest need.”
Another category of symptoms that may require a different response to self-isolating is “long Covid”.
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For some people, coronavirus can cause symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone.
According to the NHS, you should contact a GP if you’re worried about symptoms four weeks or more after having coronavirus.
“Your doctor will talk to you about the care and support you might need,” advises the NHS.
The health body adds: “You may be given advice about how to manage and monitor your symptoms at home.”
If you have mild symptoms of coronavirus, get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible.
You and anyone you live with should stay at home and not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.
Anyone in your support bubble should also stay at home if you have been in close contact with them since your symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started.
A support bubble is where someone who lives alone (or just with their children) can meet people from one other household.
Can I treat mild symptoms at home?
Most people with coronavirus (COVID-19) feel better within a few weeks. You may be able to look after yourself at home while you recover.
According to the NHS, if you have a high temperature, it can help to:
- Get lots of rest
- Drink plenty of fluids (water is best) to avoid dehydration – drink enough so your pee is light yellow and clear
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you feel uncomfortable.
There have been some news reports of anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen, making coronavirus worse.
The Commission on Human Medicines has now confirmed there is no clear evidence that using ibuprofen to treat symptoms such as a high temperature makes coronavirus worse.
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