Since the last two years of the outbreak of the coronavirus, it has shown a varied spectrum of presentation. He also has an array of symptoms – sometimes asymptomatic, sometimes having a cold to conditions that become severe with pneumonia. Speaking to HT Lifestyle, Dr. Ravi Shekhar Jha, Director and Unit Head, Pulmonology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad said: “COVID pneumonia, being viral, affects both lungs at the same time, and that is why it is sometimes associated with a rapid deterioration in oxygen levels leading to respiratory failure and even death. When due to pneumonia, both lungs are filled with secretions also known as fluid, air cannot enter the fluid-filled lungs and the oxygen level begins to drop. When fluid is too abundant and even supplemental oxygen cannot meet oxygen requirements, the patient may require ventilatory support. Another common thing that was noticed with covid pneumonia, especially the second wave, was how fast it spread. It has the potential to get complicated within 1 or 2 days.
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He further added that the relationship between getting covid and getting pneumonia also varies depending on a range of factors – vaccination status, previous infection, comorbidities and viral load. It also depends on the variant of the coronavirus. The delta variant of covid caused fatal pneumonia, while the Omicron variant did not.
Symptoms of covid pneumonia include dry cough, chest pain, occasional sputum production, high fever, shortness of breath, gasping, sweating, diaphoresis, chills, loss of appetite, blood in the spitting and fatigue. Ravi Shekhar Jha further added that none of these symptoms are specific to covid pneumonia – however, if a person starts developing these symptoms after testing positive for covid, this indicates that the person may have developed pneumonia .
Since covid pneumonia is a viral disease, antibiotics play no role in it. “There is no specific treatment for covid pneumonia. In some cases your doctor may decide to use steroids, but again steroids have their own side effects so they should be used with the most great caution,” said Ravi Shekhar Jha.
In the event that a person tests positive for covid, it is important to monitor the level of sugar and other comorbidities in the body to avoid contracting pneumonia. Keeping a check on the body’s oxygen level and staying well hydrated also helps to stay healthy. Ravi Shekhar Jha also recommended regular steam inhalation to prevent pneumonia.