The Patient Journey
A DTAP Stay Home Series Part 2
In part 1 of our series, we shared a bit on the statistics surrounding COVID 19 and some simple steps one can take in minimizing the spread of germs. This centered around the whole idea of preventing droplet spread. And because of this, many of us have opted to stay at home and even work from home.
In fact, droplet spread stems from coughing and sneezing and the droplets which contain viruses tend to stay on surfaces and ultimately persist for up to 24 hours. That is why the 2 biggest health recommendations were to wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing to prevent the spread of germs via the droplets AND the washing of hands especially after touching surfaces outside.
At team DTAP, not only have we encouraged each and everyone of our staff to maintain and work on their personal hygiene, we have also taken the active step to further increase the frequency of sterilization at our clinics. In fact this was a snapshot of our recent communiqué with our staff.
Our main priority always is to protect our staff and patients. If anyone is found to have fever and upper respiratory tract symptoms (coughing, running nose etc), the prerogative as per the Ministry of Health (MOH) Singapore’s recommendations is, for that member of staff to be on unfit for work status for 5 days and resting at home.
The rationale behind such a thinking is that if the infection causing the upper respiratory tract infection was the garden variety, ample rest would allow the body to recover. However, if the opposite were true and if this was indeed a COVID 19 infection, time would unmask this as the index person would have a persistent fever, signs of airway infection and even breathing difficulties.
The WHO-China report tabulated 56,-000 cases and found that almost 90% had fever as presentation, 7 in 10 had a dry cough, slightly less than half of those polled had lethargy and fatigue and only 5 in a 100 had upper airway nasal symptoms such as runny nose, blocked nose or even sneezing.
So if you are caught up at home in this period of MC5 (5 days of unfit for work) or even on a Stay Home Notice or Quarantine Order (see first article in series), there’s no need to fret as you allow your body to rest and recuperate.
But what happens when you continue to sneeze during this period, and, despite sanitization efforts, you worry that others may look at you funny and steer away from you?
Let’s delve deeper into what causes one to sneeze; when irritants or infective agents such as bacteria or viruses irritate the airway, chemicals are produced by the body to activate the mucus producing glands resulting in a “runny nose”. These chemicals also activate the nerve endings in the nose and result in one getting an “itchy nose” and ultimately an “AH CHOO”, sneeze !
Although the medical literature has reported that only 5% or 5 in a 100 cases of COVID 19 have concurrent symptoms of sneezing, running nose or blocked nose, I am sure that the persistence of your nasal symptoms may alarm you.
When you speak to one of our doctors, in the absence of fever (I will share more in our next article part 3 of our series on the persistence of fever), we will try to understand your travel and contact history and also see whether there are any known irritants you may have come into contact with recently that could signify an allergic cause of sneezing.
Sneezing is usually significant and caused by an allergy when,
- There is an observable pattern of sneezing, especially coming into contact with certain environments
- When it starts to affect your daily quality of life – going to work tired and drained, suffering the symptoms on a day to day basis – watery eyes, clogged nose
Based on these symptoms and history, the next step often is to figure out what allergies you might be suffering from – Take an allergy test!
After the tests are done, a report (sample above for blood test IgE) is produced. This report will be discussed with you and the type of allergen as well as degree of allergy will be identified.
Knowing your allergy is the first step to finding an active plan in dealing with the allergy.
This active plan will be individualized and customised specific for your needs and lifestyle. But they might involve anything from Immunotherapy, avoidance of allergens, to even carrying around an Epipen with you in view of serious life threatening allergies.
Remember, if you are staying home and still sneezing, the chances of it being COVID19 is low if you had no contact with anyone from the infectious clusters locally or abroad. But if you are sneezing at home and persistently especially in the morning, it could well be an allergy that can be further investigated and treated.
Stay safe, dispose your used tissues in the bins and remember to keep sanitizing your hands!