Growing Number of Young COVID Patients
August 3, 2020
In some hospitals across the country, there is an influx of young patients seeking emergency medical care and treatment for their COVID-19-related symptoms and complications. At the onset of the pandemic, the majority of emergency room (ER) patients were around 65-years-old. Now, medical professionals report seeing more patients between the ages of 25 and 45. Although early reports indicated that young people were less likely to experience serious complications from the contagious respiratory virus, new data points in a different direction.
Our country learns new things about the Coronavirus every day: new trends, new symptoms, and so much more. One of the new trends is the upswing of young patients needing intensive care to treat the more major, potentially deadly complications related to COVID-19, which include:
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS
- Acute kidney and/or cardiac injury
- Sepsis and septic shock
- Multi organ failure
This trend of young people who need intensive or emergency medical care is happening in some other countries (for example in the Netherlands and France) as well, with as many as half of all hospital patients being under 50-years-old. American doctors say that in some cases, their young patients do not even have notable medical histories or preexisting conditions thought to contribute to the severity of the virus.
Risk Factors for Young People
According to a study conducted by researchers at UC San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospitals, smoking is one of the biggest risk factors (more severe than asthma and obesity) for young people facing COVID-19. Although fewer young individuals need emergency medical intervention than people over the age of 65, the numbers are still going up dramatically. From April to June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) observed a 299% increase in hospitalizations among young adults – whereas there was only a 139% increase for older ones. Researchers determined some other potential risk factors for severe or deadly complications, like:
- Using e-cigarettes, or “vapes”
- Certain liver conditions
- Autoimmune conditions, including gout, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
- Certain heart conditions
Symptoms to Watch out for
Whatever our age may be, it is critical to know the symptoms of COVID-19 and that we all take steps to limit its spread (such as by wearing face coverings or masks and social distancing). In light of the new concerning trend of an influx of younger ER patients, medical professionals should be sure to screen and test them just as rigorously for the virus as they would older, more “at-risk” patients.
Some of the main symptoms to keep an eye out for include fever or chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, cough, muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, nausea or vomiting, headache, congestion or a runny nose, and diarrhea. If you are experiencing these symptoms, call your doctor to discuss what your next steps should be. If you or a loved one is experiencing emergency warning signs of COVID-19, like persistent pain or pressure in the chest, trouble breathing, new confusion, inability to wake up or to remain awake, or bluish lips or face, seek emergency medical care or call 9-1-1 right away.
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