Last week the CDC quietly rolled out four new symptoms and updated the list of underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of severe illness associated with COVID-19.

What are the four new symptoms?

Fatigue, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea have been added to the list of possible symptoms. The World Health Organization reports that fatigue may be a more common symptom than difficulty breathing.

The CDC’s official announcement now states that people with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

What new risk factors have been identified?

The CDC also updated their list of who may be at increased risk for getting severely ill from COVID-19. And while older adults and people with underlying medical conditions remain at increased risk, the CDC has made a few changes to further define age and condition-related risks.

AGE-RELATED RISKS

Most notably, the CDC removed the language that indicated a specific age range as a risk factor. The new findings clarify that it’s not just those over the age of 65 who are at increased risk for severe illness. The new message is loud and clear:

Everyone is at risk for getting COVID-19 if they are exposed to the virus.

UNDERLYING CONDITIONS

The CDC also updated the list of underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of severe illness. Now, in addition to previous advice, the CDC warns that people of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Obesity (BMI of 30 or higher)
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes

And, since this is a new disease with limited data available, the CDC has also identified that people with the following conditions MIGHT be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Smoking
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus

What is the Caregiver’s role in prevention?

As citizens, we ALL have a responsibility to do what we can to prevent the spread of the virus. But, caregivers play an even more critical role. Caregivers have access to many of our nation’s most vulnerable people—the elderly, disabled, and frail.

In some cases, caregivers may be the only link between a client and the outside world. That means they must do what they can to keep themselves healthy so they do not infect their clients. And they have to be able to recognize the symptoms and get help early for anyone showing signs.

A FREE HANDOUT!

We’ve updated our Coronavirus Handout to include the new symptoms and risk factors. Feel free to download and distribute this free tool to caregivers, clients, and their families.

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