Doctors starting to see younger patients with severe COVID symptoms
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As things continue to reopen and life starts to feel a bit more like normal, doctors are warning everyone this is not a time to let guards down.
During a COVID-19 update with the City of Louisville Tuesday, pulmonary and critical care specialist Dr. Sonia Compton, who has been treating COVID-19 patients since March, said she is noticing a different trend with the pandemic.
“Patients in their 30s, 40s, and 50s who are getting much sicker and having much more prolonged illnesses and severity of illness,” Compton said. “Now we’re seeing people with fewer underlying health issues. People who may just have high blood pressure or people who may be just slightly overweight, and that’s a concern.”
Dr. Tony Weaver, an internal medicine and community physician with UofL Health, said he’s not surprised people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s are contracting the virus more, especially with things reopening and people starting to get relaxed about the virus.
“But [COVID-19] is an invader that is attacking all of us,” Weaver said. “Some of us can easily fight it off, some can’t. But can we help each other to fight this off together? That would be what I hope for, for a young person who is wondering whether or not to wear a mask.”
Eric Gunderson didn’t expect to test positive for COVID-19, especially because he said his symptoms were mild.
“I was very blessed,” Gunderson said. “Just a headache, and like I said, the temperature and chills for a day, but the rest of it was gone by Wednesday.”
Gunderson said he recently was on a trip with his wife to North Carolina. By the Friday of their trip, he started to not feel well and had a headache. He said by Saturday, he had a high fever.
“Got tested right away,” Gunderson told WAVE 3 News. “They told me to immediately quarantine myself in my room from the rest of the family and got the call Monday that the test was positive.”
He said Louisville Public Health officials checked in with him daily to check on him and his family. They told him because symptoms usually show up about five days after contracting the virus, Gunderson would have been in Louisville when he contracted the virus.
“I can’t really pinpoint where or how I got it,” he said.
Gunderson said he’s grateful his case was mild compared to so many others.
“I’ve unfortunately had friends who’ve gotten very sick from this,” he said. “I have a good friend of mine who unfortunately his sister passed away, and she was only a year older than me. And she was, according to him, she was in good shape. So I’m not taking for granted that I was fortunate.”
Dr. Weaver said long-term effects like brain fog, losing the senses of taste and smell and other long-term respiratory effects can happen for some. Respiratory effects can also cause some patients to be on oxygen for a while.
“We’re still only a few months into this, less than a year into this, we’re still learning the long term side effects of it,” Weaver said. “It is certainly has a lot more, it attacks a lot more of the body than viruses we’re used to such as influenza.”
Weaver said he understands people are ready for the virus to go away, but he does not believe that will happen anytime soon. He told WAVE 3 News it’s important to continue wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing to help slow down the virus.
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