If You Have One of These Symptoms, the CDC Says Go to the Hospital Now

These emergency COVID signs require immediate medical care.

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The coronavirus can manifest very differently from person to person, including when it comes to severity. Among the more than 21 million infected with the virus, many have overcome the infection, but the death toll of nearly 360,000 is a somber reminder that not everyone has fared as well. But how can you tell if you need medical attention, or if you have a mild case you can recover from at home? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are five symptoms that require immediate medical care. If you have any of these COVID symptoms, you need to go to the hospital right away. Read on learn what to watch out for, and for more coronavirus news, Dr. Fauci Just Made This Scary Prediction About the U.K. COVID Strain.

1
Trouble breathing

Girl at home can't breathe
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According to Leann Poston, MD, a licensed physician and health expert for Invigor Medical, "trouble breathing is a sensation that you cannot take a deep breath, that your throat is closing, or that you cannot get enough air into your lungs." In these instances, you need to go to the hospital. In milder cases, your shortness of breath could be due to temporary, non-life threatening occurrences such as exercise, anxiety, or asthma.

William W. Li, MD, a physician and the medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation, says checking your oxygenation status by using a pulse oximeter is a good way to gauge if you're experiencing emergency breathing issues. He says if you are short of breath and see your pulse number go below 92, you need to go to the ER. And if you're worried about the ongoing coronavirus spread, The New COVID Strain Is Now in These 5 States.

2
Persistent pain or pressure in the chest

Man holding his chest because of heart pain
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Persistent pain or pressure in the chest usually appears alongside shortness of breath, says Spencer Kroll, MD, a board-certified internal medicine specialist. According to Kroll, any chest pain that last consistently for more than a minute should be of concern. If you are having fleeting chest pain, it should only last for seconds, he says.

Poston says this chest pain can be the result of serious issues that arise from COVID such as a heart attack or a pulmonary embolism. "If chest pain is a blood clot causing a heart attack, you have a limited amount of time to break up the blood clot before heart cells begin to die," she warns. "If the chest pain is due to a pulmonary embolism, the blood supply to part of a lung is interrupted. If it is a large enough section of the lung, it can be fatal." And for more symptoms to be aware of, If Your Symptoms Appear in This Order, You May Have Severe COVID

3
New confusion

A senior woman sitting in a wheelchair holding her head looking confused and worried
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If you're experiencing new confusion in your everyday life, it could be because COVID has resulted in a lack of oxygen to the brain, Li says. According to Li, COVID infects the lungs and damages blood vessels once inside the body. This can result in blood clots, which could potentially block the flow of oxygen to your brain.

And unfortunately, a lack of oxygen to your brain can cause problems quickly. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, "brain cells are very sensitive to a lack of oxygen." In fact, some of these cells can start dying within five minutes of losing oxygen, which can result in severe brain damage or death. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

4
Inability to wake or stay awake

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Kroll says fatigue in COVID patients can be the result of various issues such as poor blood flow, low oxygen levels, fever, muscle irritation, or inflammation. Poston says no matter what the underlying cause is, the inability to wake or stay awake is a clear "sign that there has been a change in the brain's chemistry," which is an issue that needs to be medically investigated immediately. You should seek immediate medical care if you are caring for someone with COVID and they lose consciousness. And for more coronavirus symptoms, This Is the "Strongest, Most Consistent" Sign You Have COVID, Study Says.

5
Bluish lips or face

Female healthcare worker wearing surgical mask examining male patient. Doctor checking eyes of mid adult man. They are at a hospital.
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Your lips or face will turn blue if your red blood cells are not carrying enough oxygen—which be a sign of severe pneumonia or a pulmonary embolism, Poston says. Jenna Liphart Rhoads, PhD, a registered nurse and medical educator for Nurse Together, previously told Best Life that blue lips is considered a "late" sign of oxygen deprivation, which means fatality could be imminent. This is why as soon as blue lips appear, they are considered an emergency symptom that requires immediate medical attention. And for more recent COVID news, Dr. Fauci Just Issued This Warning About Another New COVID Strain.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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