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Coronavirus 2019 - Condition Information  

What is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness. It's caused by a coronavirus called 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Some things to know about coronavirus:

  • There are many types of coronaviruses; COVID-19 is the strain discovered in 2019. 
  • Coronaviruses are a common cause of bronchitis; sometimes, they cause pneumonia.
  • Symptoms can range from mild to severe respiratory illness.
  • These viruses are also found in some animals.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after contact with the virus. They can include: 

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath 

The symptoms of COVID-19 can be like other health conditions. If you have these symptoms, contact your provider. 

How is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) diagnosed?

If a Loma Linda University Health provider suspects you may have COVID-19, he or she will order a viral test for you. Your results will be available within about two days — you should avoid contact with others during this time. If your symptoms are serious, you may need to stay in the hospital for care.

If your viral test is positive for COVID-19, your provider will consider your medical history and help you decide the best option for you. Most people recover from COVID-19 at home in about two weeks. If your symptoms get worse during that time and you become concerned, contact your provider immediately.

If your viral test is negative for COVID-19, you don't currently have the disease. This does not mean you can't be infected in the future, so continue to practice preventive measures.

A viral test for COVID-19 isn't the same as an antibody test. An antibody test may show if your body has already fought off COVID-19, but isn't usually used to diagnose a current infection. Even if you have COVID-19 antibodies, it's still not clear if or when you can be infected again — continue to practice all preventive measures. 

How is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) treated?

There is currently no medicine to treat the virus. Treatment is done to help your body while it fights the virus. This is known as supportive care. Supportive care may include:

  • Pain medicine. These include acetaminophen and ibuprofen. They are used to help ease pain and reduce fever.
  • Bed rest. This helps your body fight the illness.
  • Hospitalization. For severe illness, you may need to stay in the hospital to receive:
    • IV (intravenous) fluids. These are given through a vein to help keep your body hydrated.
    • Oxygen. Supplemental oxygen or ventilation with a breathing machine (ventilator) may be given. This is done to keep enough oxygen in your body.

What are possible complications of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

In many cases, this virus can cause infection (pneumonia) in both lungs. In some cases, this can cause death.

What can I do to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

To help prevent spreading the infection, wash your hands often for a minimum of 20 seconds. When hand washing isn’t possible, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Because there is no vaccine yet, the best prevention is to not have contact with the virus.

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, you should:

  • Wash your hands often, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Wear a mask that fully covers your mouth and nose. 
  • Avoid visiting crowded public areas when possible.
  • Aviod touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean surfaces often with disinfectant.

Next Steps

Follow prevention advice. Follow the steps here for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including handwashing and avoiding contact with sick people.

Call your provider with concerns. If you have symptoms, call your provider or send a message through MyChart. Do not go to the doctor's office or emergency room until your provider instructs it.

Follow instructions closely. If you are diagnosed, follow the instructions of the healthcare staff closely in order to improve your own recovery and reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others.