COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the world and has claimed thousands of lives. To beat this disease, the first and foremost step we have been told by health experts is to maintain personal hygiene. Personal hygiene and disease prevention go hand in hand.
Many diseases are contagious due to the transfer of bacteria, virus, fungi, etc from one person to the other. COVID 19 and pneumonia have proven to be two such deadly diseases which can cripple the immunity of the person affected. Though these two diseases are different, they have some aspects which are common to both.
This article will guide you in understanding the symptoms related to COVID-19 and pneumonia and how maintaining good personal hygiene will help in mitigating these deadly diseases.
All about COVID-19
COVID-19 is a disease which afflicts the people when they are infected by a strain of virus from the family of Coronaviruses. Coronaviruses constitute a large family of viruses which are responsible for causing potent illness in human beings and animals. Some of the strains of viruses from the coronavirus family have been responsible for causing severe diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), to name a few. COVID-19 is caused due to SARS-CoV-2, an off-shoot virus from the family of coronaviruses.
Symptoms of COVID-19
Here we will discuss all possible angles and information related to the symptoms of COVID-19 and how it is contagious. Some of the most obvious COVID-19 symptoms include:
- Dry cough
- Mild respiratory illness
- Breathing problems
Some other symptoms can also include sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, diarrhoea to name a few. An infected person can experience mild fever and trouble in breathing. These symptoms are initially mild and then increase gradually. Older people and people suffering from respiratory ailments like Asthma, heart diseases, high blood pressure are more susceptible to COVID-19 and can develop a severe illness due to it.
It has been proven that the virus spreads in the community from the respiratory droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of a COVID-19 infected person through sneezing or coughing. COVID-19 is not termed as an airborne disease so there are minuscule chances of contracting it through the air. The virus in the infected salivary droplets can stay alive and persist on any surface for quite a few days.
This makes COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease because any healthy person on touching those infected surfaces stands a chance to contract this deadly disease. You can also become infected on directly inhaling the virus, or on touching your face or nose with the virus contaminated hand.
Due to these reasons, personal hygiene has been given foremost importance to help defeat this lethal virus.
Before we delve into the importance of personal hygiene, let us take a look at another deadly disease which shares a similar way of contamination like COVID-19- Pneumonia.
All about Pneumonia
Pneumonia is primarily a lung infection which is caused by certain types of bacteria, virus or fungi. The most common strain of bacteria that causes pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumonia. A very important component in our body called air sacs or alveoli, present in the lungs is responsible for respiratory activities like the intake of oxygen and production of carbon dioxide. They provide a large surface area for gaseous exchange.
Pneumonia directly attacks the air sacs thereby causing hindrance to the important respiratory activities. It irritates the lining of the alveoli which causes it to inflame and fill it with liquid or pus. This renders the air sacs useless to perform a respiratory gaseous exchange.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
Some of the common pneumonia symptoms include:
- Chest pain that becomes unbearable when you breathe, cough or sneeze
- Loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing which produces mucus
- Vomiting and nausea
Pneumonia is also contagious and is caused by the transmission of respiratory droplets from the nose or mouth of an infected person to a healthy person through:
- Coughing and sneezing
- Touching any item or surface which has come in contact with the infected person
- Sharing utensils or food items with the infected person
What is the Difference between COVID-19 and Pneumonia?
On the surface, both the diseases show similar trends with regards to symptoms and spread but there are some notable differences between pneumonia and COVID-19.
Firstly, COVID-19 is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, from the coronavirus family whereas pneumonia is caused by different strains of bacteria, virus and fungi. Streptococcus pneumonia (bacteria species), Influenza A and B (virus strains) and Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are notably known to cause pneumonia. Some strains of coronaviruses and rhinoviruses are also responsible for causing pneumonia.
Both COVID-19 and pneumonia are spread through infected respiratory droplets from nose or mouth. It is interesting to note that bacterial pneumonia and viral pneumonia are contagious whereas fungal pneumonia is not. Fungal pneumonia is caused by the environment.
The most noteworthy difference between COVID-19 and pneumonia lies in their symptomatic aspects. COVID-19 symptoms and pneumonia symptoms have a lot of similarities but there are certainly notable differences which include:
- COVID-19 invokes a bout of dry cough and fever whereas pneumonia is known for inducing wet cough containing mucous
- Nausea and vomiting are found to be more common with patients suffering from pneumonia than COVID-19
- Both the diseases cause shortness of breath but a person infected with pneumonia is known to produce a wheezing sound while breathing which can be accompanied by severe chest pain
Now comes the most important part. How best to tackle such severe diseases?
Here the various facets of personal hygiene come as a saviour in ways which people haven’t even imagined. Sometimes people find it hard to believe that some very simple measures in terms of personal hygiene and etiquettes can help in tackling these deadly diseases.
Personal Hygiene and Disease Prevention- Two Sides of the Same Coin
Some of the personal hygiene measures include:
Isolation: In case of a COVID-19 or pneumonia outbreak in your locality, it is best to isolate yourself so that you do not come under the risk of touching any infected surface. Also, if the infected person suspects to have contracted any of the severe contagious diseases, he or she should immediately get admitted and treated in a hospital and also refrain from travelling much so as not to contaminate any public surface.
Wash Your Hands Frequently: Whether you have come back from a supermarket or office, or have been working with your laptop, phone or pen, you should wash your hands for more than 20 seconds. When you are outside you might have come in contact with many different objects whose surface can act as a germ carrier. So no matter what you do or where you go, wash your hands frequently to rid them of all the germs.
Use Hand Sanitizer: Whenever you are outside, you might not have the necessary provisions to wash your hands. So always use hand sanitizers before you eat or touch your face.
Have Your Personal Utensils And Toiletries: Having your own utensils, toiletries, handkerchiefs and towels will reduce the risk of contracting the germs of an infected person. Any surface acts as a germ carrier. So try to maintain your personal utensils and toiletries.
Wear Masks And Gloves When You Go Out: Wearing masks will act as a protective gear to prevent the contact of your bare hands with your face and nose. Also, wearing gloves will protect your hands from germs and viruses even if you come in contact with any contaminated surface.
Protective Covering: Always wear protective coverings over high-risk areas of your body
Using a Sanitizer: Before putting on a mask, use a sanitizer or wash with alcohol based hand rub or soap and water.
Don’t Forget To Wear Gloves: Gloves can protect you from harmful organisms, and Nitrile gloves are a great option.
Wear Double Gloves: It’s wise to use double gloves if you will come in contact with a coronavirus infected person, just for precautions.
Drink Warm Water Frequently: Warm water keeps the throat lining supple, smooth and helps in washing away the normal germs as they don’t survive in warmers temperatures. This will reduce the chances of having a sore throat or cough.
This exhaustive list can give you a fair idea of how these simple measures can keep you healthy and help save your life. Personal hygiene protects you from coming in contact with contaminated surfaces and keeps you healthy. Deadly diseases like COVID-19 and pneumonia can be prevented if we can stop the contagion by maintaining strict personal hygiene.