Varying outcomes from COVID-19 create unpredictable expectations

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DENVER (KDVR) — With the hospitalization of Colorado’s first gentleman, Marlon Reis, many have new questions about COVID-19. 

Reis was hospitalized over the weekend after having difficulty breathing. This was eight days after he tested positive. It was reported earlier that he was experiencing mild symptoms.

Doctors say they feel they have a better handle on the virus than they did back in March, but there is still plenty they cannot explain.

Patients have reported a wide range of symptoms, from shortness of breath, to fever and chills, to nausea and diarrhea. One man told us, “Every time I would breathe in, it felt like it was an icepick just stabbing in my lungs.”

Another former COVID-19 patient said, “It seems to be that there is some sort of checklist. The fever, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest or body aches. I didn’t have any of that. What happened to me is I had severe diarrhea.”

Doctors say it is unusual, but not unheard of to experience a worsening of symptoms a week into the illness, like Reis has.

“There’s a small percentage of people who have a delayed response to the infection, which is generally thought not be the infection, but the person’s immune response to the infection. It causes a flare up of the symptoms, shortness of breath, fevers and chills,” Dr. Joseph Forrester, an ICU physician at the Medical Center of Aurora said.

The vast majority of people with COVID-19, about 80%, do not need to go to the hospital for treatment.

“Those who I would recommend going to the hospital is if, during the course of their illness, they are getting significantly more shortness of breath than you would expect from a cold, they are much achier than you expect with a cold or a moderate case of flu. they have difficulty eating, drinking and keeping solids and liquids down,” Forrester said.

He said people with preexisting conditions and the elderly have a higher chance of having a more severe illness, but it is not always the case.

“Many people who have these illnesses and conditions do not get a severe case of COVID. On the flip of that we have seen people who have no underlying preconditions, they are healthy, they’re relatively young, in their 20s and 30s and have very severe cases. It’s not predictable, certainly with an elderly person with other conditions, they will have a rockier course generally than younger person who doesn’t, but that’s not always predictable,” Forrester said.

Doctors say there is so much information about the virus now, and new information is distributed to the medical community very quickly. They emphasize wearing a mask, hand washing and sanitizing and social distancing at the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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