Letter to All Patients of Allergy Sleep & Lung Care – SOMNAS from Dr. Imtiaz Ahmad
I know that there’s widespread concern in our community about the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), and I want you to know that your health is my top priority at Allergy Sleep & Lung Care-SOMNAS.
With the increasing uncertainty and growing number of infected individuals around the world, we encourage you to take responsibility for yourself and your family. Though the risk remains low, it’s important to take a proactive approach to minimize exposure and stay home
If you’re exhibiting symptoms of respiratory illness (new onset of cough, shortness of breath and/or fever in last 3 weeks), I urge you to stay home, take care of yourself, and schedule a secure video appointment.
Research shows that tele-health visits via video can be just as effective as in-person appointments, and we can continue your care without interruption. If you’re interested, let me know and I’ll make the necessary arrangements.
If you have any questions, please call us at 239-437-6670.
Imtiaz Ahmad, MD
Allergy Sleep & Lung Care-SOMNAS
What pulmonology and sleep patients need to know about COVID-19
The spread of the novel coronavirus, which causes the illness COVID-19, is at the top of everyone’s mind. And people with health conditions such as lung disease (and their loved ones) are especially interested in staying up to date.
Our top concern is keeping our patients and members, their families and our communities safe and healthy.
Read on for guidance and ways you can protect yourself and your loved ones.
Here’s what you need to know
People with chronic lung disease have a higher risk for complications from COVID-19.
In general, people with lung disease are more likely to experience symptoms and complications when infected with a virus, including the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. People who have lung disease don’t have a higher chance of contracting the virus — but they may have worse outcomes.
Because lung diseases such as asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis and interstitial lung diseases can weaken the immune system. COVID-19 is an upper and lower respiratory infection that can trigger an asthma attack and even lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease.
That’s why it’s important for patients and their caregivers to take steps to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19.
It’s also important for people with lung disease to know that they may not face worse outcomes if infected. Each person is different. Continue to take any medications your doctor has prescribed and contact them if you have any questions about COVID-19 and your health.
All people with lung disease should talk with a doctor who understands their current health status and medical history to assess their risks related to COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also offers specific recommendations for people at risk for serious illness, including COVID-19.
Information is still new.
Because the COVID-19 outbreak is still new, doctors don’t have a lot of specific information on this strain of coronavirus for pulmonology patients. However, they do have a lot of information regarding the risk of infections in general for patients with lung disease.
Symptoms of a COVID-19 infection can resemble that of a cold or flu, and can last up to 14 days:
- Shortness of breath (beyond your usual day-to-day symptoms)
COVID-19 symptoms can appear as early as 2 days and as late as 14 days after exposure.
If you feel like you’re developing symptoms, call us.
If you’re having symptoms you think may be related to COVID-19, before you visit a doctor’s office, clinic or emergency room, call Allergy Sleep & Lung Care – SOMNAS at 239-437-6670 for care guidance or to talk with a nurse, especially if:
You’ve been in close contact with a person who has flu-like symptoms, confirmed flu or hast tested positive for COVID-19. You live in or have recently traveled to an area known to have an outbreak of the disease.
Watch for emergency warning signs.
Seek immediate medical attention if you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, including:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- Bluish lips or skin
- Sudden confusion or inability to arouse
In an emergency, call 911 or head to the nearest emergency room.
What if a family member develops symptoms?
- Wash your hands often, and make sure your family member does the same.
- Keep surfaces in your house clean.
- Maintain a safe distance.
- Sleep in different rooms.
- Don’t eat at the same table.
Following these guidelines can be difficult if you have children. We encourage you to have a candid discussion with your family about the risks you face and your need to maintain a safe distance and keep the house sanitized.
Should I keep regularly scheduled follow-up appointments?
Yes, just call our office to set up a telehealth visit. Avoiding a hospital visit would limit your risk.
And if you have mild symptoms of fever, runny nose and cough, stay home, just like you would if you had a cold.
If you must visit a clinic, be prepared to put on a mask when you arrive.
Is my caregiver/family member allowed to accompany me to an appointment?
Guidelines are changing as the situation evolves and we work to keep patients safe. Currently we are allowing only patients to enter the facility and family members are allowed to drop-off patients at the door.
How you can protect yourself
- Practice social distancing. Don’t shake hands, avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet away from others.
- Wash your hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing, sneezing or visiting public areas.
- Alcohol-based sanitizers and wipes with at least 60% alcohol are also good options for hand hygiene.
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
- Avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, nose and eyes.
- Keep surfaces clean and disinfected at your home, workplace and school.
Take extra care to avoid crowded and closed public spaces, such as public transportation, theaters and restaurants. Limit travel — especially on planes or cruise ships, which should be avoided.
This doesn’t mean you’re housebound. You can take walks outside and even go grocery shopping at off-peak hours if necessary. Be sure to bring your own bags and disinfect cart handles. Wash your hands or use sanitizer after using the cart. Hand hygiene is critical.
Most importantly, if you are feeling sick or showing signs of an illness, be very cautious about going into public spaces and stay home from work or school.
For the latest information, including more detailed responses to some common questions, visit the following websites: