CT scans are advised only in cases where the disease is moderate and the patient is hospitalized.
On 3 May, AIIMS Director, Dr. Randeep Guleria, warned the public about the severe damage CT scans cause if undergone unnecessarily.
He urged people not to rush for CTs in case they have mild COVID since the side effects will do more harm than good, both in the short and the long run.
Dr. Guleria said that people have been rushing for CTs as soon as they test positive for COVID-19, along with pointing at the misuse of CT scans and biomarkers.
Why The Unnecessary Hassle?
“One CT scan is equivalent to 300 to 400 chest X-rays. According to data, repeated CT scans in younger age groups increase the risk of cancer in later life. Exposing yourself to radiation, again and again, may cause damage. So, there is no point in doing a CT scan in mild COVID-19 if the oxygen saturation is normal,” Dr. Guleria said.
He also said that if the case mild or (even) asymptomatic, CTs show patches that ultimately go away without treatment.
He also asked people not to rush for blood tests for biomarkers needlessly if there’s mild illness or if the patient is already isolated at home.
As long as the oxygen saturation is fine, fever is not high and there are no other symptoms, a CT is unessential and should be avoided.
“As this will cause panic. These biomarkers are acute phase reactants and they increase even when there is some normal injury and toothache, it does not show that the COVID-19 disease has become severe. This causes more damage. Reliance on these tests can lead to over-treatment,” he said.
Mild Cases Need No Hospitalisation
Symptoms of mild cases of COVID-19 include:
Most common symptoms:
Less common symptoms:
aches and pains
loss of taste or smell
a rash on the skin, or discoloration of fingers or toes
difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
chest pain or pressure
loss of speech or movement
Looking At The Alternatives
CT scans use X-rays, which produce ionizing radiation. Research shows that this kind of radiation may damage your DNA and lead to cancer.
On the contrary, a chest X-ray is quite credible and appropriate if doubt persists.
Although the clinical management guidelines have clearly cited that no medication is required in case of mild symptoms, ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine can be taken if the need arises.
But apart from that, no hard medication is to be taken for cases of mild COVID.
Another issue pertaining to patients’ consumption of too many medicines when the symptoms have just started is viral replication.
Intake of high-dose steroids causes severe viral pneumonia. Hence, the doctors are going crazy asking people not to take unsolicited and unprofessional advice.
Plenoptic x-rays too can be seen as an alternative to CTs.
The bottom line being, no imaging exam should be done unless there’s a clear medical benefit out of it.
Warning Signs For Hospitalization
Dr. Guleria mentioned some of the red flags that need to be acknowledged and acted upon as soon as they appear, that is to say before it is too late.
The signs include:
Falling oxygen saturation (below 93),
excessive fatigue, and
The abovementioned are the warning signs for patients that are already in home isolation or the ones that are at higher risk than the rest.
Preventive Measures Given By WHO
COVID-19 is often more severe in people 60+yrs or with health conditions like lung or heart disease, diabetes, or conditions that affect their immune system:
Are you at higher risk of severe COVID-19?:
If you’re someone who’s at higher risk of severe COVID-19 due to your age or an underlying health condition, protecting yourself is really important:
COVID-19 spreads primarily from person to person. Fighting this disease is our joint responsibility. It’s a community effort rather than each man for himself.
Follow the given precautionary measures religiously and make them a habit from now on (if you haven’t already):
- Clean your hands often
- Cough or sneeze in your bent elbow – not your hands!
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Limit social gatherings and time spent in crowded places
- Avoid close contact with someone who is sick
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
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