What You Should Know About Long COVID

Long COVID Symptoms and Treatment: What You Need to Know

The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic affected people from all walks of life. For the past two and a half years, everyone put their lives on hold, from postponing weddings to canceling vacations, to protect themselves from the virus. However, medical care has come a long way in the treatment of acute COVID-19 infections. Through widespread vaccinations and better prevention methods, we are finally getting ahead of this disease.  

Unfortunately, some patients that experience COVID-19 live with side effects long after the infection period has passed. The CDC refers to this as Long COVID or Post-COVID, amongst other names. These symptoms make catching the COVID-19 virus even more dangerous, as some patients can spend months or years recovering from the illness. Learn more about Long COVID and your treatment options. 

Long COVID is Still a Threat With the Omicron Variant

Virus variants change over time. At present, the Omicron subvariant is dominant in the United States. This virus is highly transmissible but causes a milder disease and results in milder symptoms. Despite the reduced risk of severe symptoms, it is still just as likely to leave patients with long COVID as the previous variants before it. Anywhere from 10% to 30% of patients can experience long COVID after catching this disease. 

If you experience lingering symptoms after a COVID-19 infection, you may have long COVID. The CDC defines this illness as, “a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems that people experience after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.” 

Essentially, you may experience side effects from the virus that linger for long periods of time – and you might even develop new ones. Even people who did not experience symptoms when they tested positive for COVID-19 can develop side effects more than four weeks after the virus has passed through them. These side effects can make it hard to participate in your favorite hobbies or even complete basic day-to-day tasks without feeling exhausted or breathless. 

What Causes Long COVID?  

While researchers are still learning about this disease, the proposed theory is that Long COVID is the result of cell damage caused by the virus. Even when the patient no longer tests positive, they may experience side effects and develop issues related to the disease. Patients who have Long COVID often fall into three categories:  

  • People who do not recover completely and have ongoing symptoms as a direct result of the virus.  
  • People with symptoms are related to chronic hospitalization – especially when someone requires ICU admission. Long COVID can develop in people who remain bedbound for weeks due to the illness or complications from the disease.
  • People whose symptoms appear after they recover. 

 

Long COVID symptoms will vary in severity. Some people might need to slow down when doing their favorite activities while others will need to temporarily stop them entirely until they recover. At present, women are more at risk for Long COVID symptoms than men. 

What Are the Symptoms of Long COVID? 

Most, if not all, organ systems can be attacked by the COVID-19 virus. This means Long COVID symptoms can vary from person to person. However, the most common Long COVID complaints include fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and brain fog – all of which can be worsened after physical activity. Patients can also experience a persistent loss of taste and smell. 

There are a few additional ways that Long COVID affects the body. You may experience:   

  • Heart-associated symptoms like palpitations and bradycardia (slowed heartbeat)
  • Respiratory system manifestations, including shortness of breath, a burning sensation in the lungs, wheezing, worsening or newly developed asthma symptoms, persistent cough, chest tightness and pain, and decreased exercise tolerance
  • Gastrointestinal complaints, including loss of appetite, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps 
  • Renal complications resulting in acute kidney injury. Someone with chronic kidney disease may need long-term dialysis after catching COVID-19   
  • Blood system complications, like the development of blood clots
  • Skin conditions like hair loss and rashes 

 

You likely won’t develop all of these symptoms if you have Long COVID. However, you may experience varied symptoms that affect different parts of your body. By reporting all of your symptoms to your doctor, they can discover which conditions are related and come up with an accurate diagnosis. 

Should You Seek Medical Attention for Long COVID? 

Listen to your body. If you experience severe symptoms, seek medical attention for Long COVID. An expert pulmonologist will be able to determine if you have Long COVID or a similar condition that mimics it. Many known conditions might seem like Long COVID at first, when they might actually be another illness that your immune system is fighting against. Your doctor will rule out these other potential factors before providing a Long COVID diagnosis. 

Can You Prevent Long COVID? 

If you catch the COVID-19 virus, there is no guaranteed way to prevent Long COVID. However, you can reduce your risk of severe side effects by getting vaccinated and boosted against the disease. Patients who are vaccinated are 50% less likely to develop Long COVID symptoms. For those who do, their symptoms are milder and are more likely to clear up faster. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, even though some patients may experience breakthrough infections.

Help is Available if You Have Long COVID Symptoms

You are not alone, many people are suffering from Long COVID and have similar symptoms. They are seeking help from medical professionals and taking steps to regain their health. Lyracore Health Alliance is here for all patients to receive comprehensive, compassionate care and support.

While the best minds in the field of medicine are working to find better treatment options for Long COVID, patients can turn to Lyracore to treat their symptoms with the latest technology and most effective treatments possible. 

The best way to avoid Long COVID is to fight the spread of this virus through vaccination. When everyone who can get vaccinated does, we are able to limit the development of additional variants and reduce the impact of this disease in our society. 

Sleep Apnea Relief

Sleep Apnea: What Is It & How To Get Relief

You may have heard the term “sleep apnea,” but what exactly is it – and how do you know if you have it? Sleep apnea is a condition that impacts an estimated 25% of men and 10% of women. It causes your breathing to become inefficient or causes you to stop for brief periods while you sleep. While we refer to sleep apnea as a single condition, there are actually multiple types of sleep apnea and it’s important to understand what is causing yours in order to receive the right treatment plan for you.

At Lyracore Health Alliance, our focus is always to diagnose the underlying condition that is responsible for your symptoms, creating an optimized treatment plan for your unique case. Here’s what you need to know about sleep apnea and how to determine if you may be experiencing this challenging condition.

There are Three Main Types of Sleep Apnea

The type of sleep apnea you have can vary depending on your underlying cause and medical history. Dr. Alexandre M. Furman, a board-certified pulmonologist in Tampa, Florida, and the founder of Lyracore Health Alliance, performs a comprehensive consultation in order to diagnose three different types of sleep apnea in patients.

Obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the soft tissue in the back of your throat periodically collapses during sleep causing brief periods of interruptions of respiration.
Your body (particularly your diaphragm and chest muscles) has to work harder to overcome the closure of the airway and restore breathing. Gasping for air or jerking your limbs and body in your sleep may be described by patients.

Your brain will wake up every time your breathing is either completely stopped or not efficient enough to support optimal body function. Episodes of wakening of the brain are not readily perceivable since your eyes remain closed and your brain perceives that you are still asleep. However, your brain does not get the benefit of continuous, restful sleep. This can cause you to feel tired the next morning.

Central sleep apnea

Central sleep apnea (CSA) is the result of problems with your central nervous system. Instead of an airway blockage, this form of apnea comes from your brain (nervous system) misfiring and not stimulating your respiratory muscles to produce a breath while you are asleep.

As a result, similar issues occur where your brain is not getting the well-deserved restful sleep it craves every night.

This form of sleep apnea is may be present in people with neuromuscular diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), patients who have had a stroke or other forms of brain injury, and those with other conditions such as heart failure, kidney disease, or chronic lung disease as well as many others.

Complex sleep apnea syndrome

Complex sleep apnea is a combination of both central and obstructive apnea. Your central nervous system misfires to stimulate you to breathe efficiently while your airways are periodically blocked by soft tissue in your throat.

It is possible to develop both OSA and CSA because they have two distinct causes.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

While there are multiple types of sleep apnea, most of the symptoms related to OSA and CSA overlap. There are several things to consider, including types of symptoms, when diagnosing this condition. Doctors will also look into the potential effects of undiagnosed sleep-disordered breathing on some other underlying health conditions such as blood pressure, heart disease, and brain strokes.

You may also notice changes to your sleep patterns and experiences side effects of poor sleep when you wake up.

People who have sleep apnea typically have a poor, disruptive sleep experience. Some symptoms include:

  • Disrupted breathing while you sleep. In some cases, you may briefly stop breathing.
  • Restlessness while sleeping, including waking up several times throughout the night.
  • Snoring
  • Gasping, snorting, and choking throughout the night.
  • Night sweats.
  • Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat or headache in the morning

Poor sleep throughout the night can lead to exhaustion and irritability in your waking hours. A few symptoms you may experience when you wake up include:

  • Fatigue or excessive sleepiness during the day.
  • Morning headaches.
  • Difficulty thinking clearly during the day.
  • Forgetfulness.
  • Crankiness.

What are the Causes and Contributing Factors of Sleep Apnea?

There are several causes of sleep apnea. Some people develop this condition because of different lifestyle factors while others are genetically more prone to apnea. A few causes of this condition include:

  • Anatomical development. The position and size of your neck, jaw, and tongue can affect your airflow.
  • Use of alcohol and other sedatives or pain medications. These can make the tissues in your throat relax, potentially creating a temporary obstruction.
  • Nasal congestion and allergies. Chronic inflammation in your nose and throat can potentially lead to sleep apnea.
  • Cigarette smoking.
  • Obesity.

Additionally, if you have a family history of sleep disorders including sleep apnea, then you may be prone to this condition as well. Ask your close relatives if they have experienced challenges sleeping.

How Can You Diagnose Sleep Apnea?

If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, request a consultation with Dr. Furman. He will review your symptoms and risks for sleep apnea to see if you could potentially have this condition. His goal is to eliminate other potential causes of poor sleep or difficulty breathing.

Dr. Furman will conduct a physical exam to identify potential risk factors that could indicate sleep apnea. He is looking for narrowing in your upper airways, large tonsils, or a large neck circumference. Your jaw size and structure – along with the placement of your tongue – are also factors that could indicate a risk of sleep apnea.

In some cases, Dr. Furman may recommend sleep studies to identify apnea. Some of these can be done at home while others are conducted in special facilities. The goal of these tests is to catch any abnormalities in your sleep patterns (like breathing that stops) and to monitor your heart rate and oxygen levels as well as brain waves and heart/muscle activity.

How Can You Treat Sleep Apnea?

Every patient is unique, which means you will receive different treatment plans depending on your specific type of apnea and its causes. In mild cases, Dr. Furman may encourage you to make basic lifestyle changes to live healthier. By treating nasal allergies or quitting smoking, you can improve some of the symptoms.
In some cases, you may need to start to use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine when you sleep. This machine uses air pressure to keep your upper airway open, which reduces snoring and prevents apnea. There are many CPAP models and mask types on the market, which means Dr. Furman can help you find one that is comfortable to use each night.

We’re Here To Help

Living with sleep apnea can leave you feeling exhausted and foggy during the day. Poor sleep can prevent you from functioning at your best in work and life. Your family members may also start to worry about you – both because of your labored breathing at night and your excess tiredness during the day. Your primary health provider may also be worried about the control of some underlying disease processes such as blood pressure control, heart disease, irregular heartbeats, epilepsy, or mood disorder among many others.
By investing in healthy airways and sound sleep, you are caring for yourself and your family and allowing yourself to enjoy life with a clearer head and higher energy levels.

Take the first steps toward healthier sleep. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Furman today at Lyracore Health Alliance.

LT COVID

Long-Term COVID and Your Lungs: What You Need To Know (And How We Can Help)

With the rise of the hyper-transmissible omicron variant this winter, it’s understandable that patients with pulmonary conditions like asthma, allergies, COPD, and others would be concerned about the long-term impacts of this variant. The good news is, omicron may cause less damage to the lungs than other mutations, like the Delta variant, and overall cause less severe illness. This may be in part be due to an increase in immunity due to vaccination. 

While the less severe illness and lung impact is a positive aspect of this variant, it’s still important to protect yourself against SARS-CoV-2 which can cause severe illness and lead to long-term, lingering effects. Here’s what you need to know about “long COVID,” a term used to describe lingering, post-COVID conditions.

What Are Long-Term COVID Symptoms?

If you’ve heard the term “long-haulers” or “long COVID” before, it’s because some patients who contract COVID-19 develop symptoms that can continue to impact their health long after they have recovered from their initial infection with SARS-CoV-2. Even asymptomatic patients can and do experience symptoms after the initial recovery period of 2-3 weeks.

Most people associate COVID symptoms with respiratory symptoms and longer symptoms of COVID on your lungs can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Cough

Beyond impacts to the lungs, long-term COVID symptoms can include impacts to the brain, heart, kidneys, skin, and more:

  • Pounding or rapid heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Circulation symptoms (pins and needles)
  • Sleep disruptions and problems
  • Dizziness
  • Rash
  • Loss of taste and/or smell
  • Joint pain
  • Chest or stomach pain
  • Mood changes
  • Brain fog (difficulty concentrating)
  • Menstrual cycle changes

 

We’re Here To Help

If you are a “long hauler,” experiencing symptoms of long COVID, we can help. From keeping your symptoms and condition under control with a comprehensive treatment and management plan to supporting your respiratory health long-term, Lyracore Pulmonary Health offers compassionate, best-in-class care to patients in the Tampa Bay area. 

Dr. Alexandre Furman brings decades of expertise in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, and Critical Care Medicine to his patients, helping them understand and gain control over serious conditions including lung cancer, lung disease, pulmonary hypertension, sleep apnea, asthma, allergies, COVID-19, long COVID, and more. 

Don’t wait to feel better. Contact our office for a comprehensive, complimentary consultation

Delta Variant

An Important Message From Dr. Alexandre Furman on the Delta Variant of SARS-CoV-2

As many of you may know by now, the COVID delta variant has become the most prevalent strain. This is a matter of extreme concern for those who are not vaccinated, as the delta variant is more contagious than the original strain of the virus and is currently accounting for 83% of infections.

If you have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, here is some important information:

The Delta Variant is highly contagious and will continue to cause surges of infections in areas with low vaccination rates.

These surges can eventually overwhelm local hospitals and make it difficult or impossible for patients to receive the routine medical care they need while also struggling to provide advanced care modalities the necessity of which may be prevented by vaccination. 

The current vaccines are highly effective and safe per scientific analysis and continued assessment by multiple scientific bodies. While it is true that any vaccine can have side effects, the risk of such, as currently assessed by a wide variety of trustworthy scientific sources is very low – and the risk of the virus-caused disease is greater.

Vaccines effectively prevent patients from getting severely ill or dying.

While you can still contract COVID-19 despite vaccination, you have drastically reduced your risk of contracting a serious illness or needing hospitalization. Moreover, there is good evidence that people who get COVID-19 disease after vaccination are much less contagious than people who have not been vaccinated, therefore offering additional protection to those you love and those who are more vulnerable to this virus.

Having had prior COVID-19 infection does not necessarily protect you from infection with the delta variant.

Antibodies produced by a prior COVID-19 infection are not guaranteed to protect you against new strains and variants of this virus, which will continue to emerge as more people become infected. The vaccines are proving to provide this protection, so you should consider vaccination even if you have had a prior infection. This can be done safely after consultation with your physician.

Unvaccinated patients are 99.5% of deaths currently reported in the US.

And 83% of all infections are related to the new Delta Variant. 

Vaccination is the most important step and our greatest defense against this virus. While we all desperately want to go back to “normal,” we are not at the end of this fight yet. The good news is, we have the power to protect ourselves and each other by getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Please consult your physician to look at your unique medical history and determine how to safely get vaccinated.

 

Alexandre M. Furman, M.D., FCCP, FCCM Named to Tampa Magazines’ 2021 Top Doctors List

Tampa Magazine Top Docs Winner 2021Alexandre M. Furman, M.D was voted by his peers to Tampa Magazines’ 2021 Top Doctors list in the specialty of Pulmonology.

In May, Tampa Magazines sent surveys to more than 9,000 physicians practicing in Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties asking them to nominate the peers they believe stand out from the rest. Tampa Bay physicians chose 292 of their peers from 67 practice areas as this year’s Top Doctors.

“Our annual Top Doctors edition has become so popular that we expanded it to include all four of our publications —TAMPA Magazine, South Tampa Magazine, TAMPA Downtown Magazine, and TAMPA Digest Magazine for a total circulation of 60,000,” says Shawna Wiggs, group publisher of Tampa Magazines. “You never know when you may find yourself in need of a new physician. This list is a valuable resource that readers consult all year long when they find themselves in need of medical guidance and treatment.”

The 2021 Top Doctors list is now available in the August 2021 edition and online.

About Tampa Magazines

Tampa Magazines is the parent company of TAMPA Magazine, TAMPA Downtown Magazine, South Tampa Magazine and TAMPA Digest Magazine. The Tampa Magazines team has been telling the city’s story since 2003, highlighting the best that Tampa has to offer in arts and culture, food and drink, home and garden, business, history and personalities. Keep up with the latest on social media @tampamagazine, @southtampamagazine and @tampadowntown and online at tampamagazines.com.

You’re COVID-Positive, Now What?

When you develop symptoms, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, the first step is to “isolate from contact with others” and get tested. Once you have a positive test result, it can be confusing to know what to do next. Lyracore founder and critical care and pulmonary specialist, Dr. Alexandre Furman, answered some of the most common questions surrounding a positive COVID-19 test result and gave guidance on what to do next.

What should I do if I have tested positive for COVID-19?

First, and most importantly, stay calm! As long as you isolate yourself and contact your medical provider, you’ll be protecting yourself and others. Once you contact your medical provider, they will guide you as to the next steps. At Lyracore, we have telemedical options for visits with COVID-exposed and COVID-positive patients through their smartphones, computers, tablets and other electronic devices and are able to do an initial evaluation virtually. If deemed necessary, lab work, imaging tests and supportive measures or advanced pharmacological interventions (Antivirals, Anti-bodies etc.) will be suggested as well proper short-term clinical follow-up. By and large, the majority of people are able to stay home and recover, with only minimal and relatively simple support measures.

Some basic steps to keep in mind are:

  • Stay home
  • Separate yourself from others
  • Clean your hands often
  • Don’t share things with healthy people
  • Monitor your symptoms
  • Call ahead for medical care
  • Return to work only after recovering

Should I continue taking my medications?

Yes, this is very important. You should continue taking all your medications as you’ve been instructed by your physician, especially if you suffer from asthma, allergies or other immunological or respiratory conditions. You’ll likely stay on the medication or increase your dosage under the guidance of your physician, and, in some cases, they may add something new that could be helpful. It all depends on your symptoms, and your virtual or in-person clinical assessment, as well as as the close clinical follow-up that will help guide your provider on the best course of action.

How many days should I stay home?

The current recommendation – from time of positive result and disappearance of symptoms (cough, body ache, fever) – is to isolate at home for 10 days of isolation. In some cases, when the illness is more severe, 20 days may be recommended.

How do I self-quarantine?

The best way to self-quarantine, if you have family members living in the same home as you, is to choose one room as your quarantine room and try to stay in there as much as possible. If there are multiple bathrooms, use a separate bathroom from the other family members or occupants. In addition to isolating, here are some of the top defenses for not spreading the virus to your family members and other close contacts:

  • Frequent handwashing by all family members and all involved in your care
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth
  • Wear a mask and gloves as much as possible when awake
  • Don’t share food, plates, utensils, cups, bedding or towels

What if I need more care?

If you are sick and need another family member to care for you, it’s best for one family member to be the sole care provider for a 24-hour period. They should wear an N95 mask (and you should too) and make sure all surfaces are kept clean between the infected individual and others by routinely and frequently disinfecting with approved products. (CDC link to approved disinfectant products)

Someone who is caring for a COVID-positive family member should also wear a protective gown, goggles, mask and gloves, and, once they’ve completed care, they should try to get undressed in the patient’s room. After leaving, they should immediately wash their hands and face or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (hands only).

What are the most common symptoms – and what should I look out for that might indicate my illness is becoming more severe?

Common reported symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Progressive breathlessness
  • Fevers
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach ache

Other, less common symptoms are:

  • Reddening of the eyes
  • Unexplained rashes
  • Cloudiness of the mind
  • Severe fatigue

Severe symptoms, which are concerning and need immediate attention:

  • Severe chest pain in any part of the chest (front, back, or sides)
  • Very high (>104F) persistent fevers over a course of 24 hrs
  • Blood in sputum
  • Severe, unrelenting headache
  • Decreased oxygen saturation levels
  • Swelling in feet, arms or face
  • Blue discoloration of tongue, nose, finger-tips or toes

What should I do if I have severe symptoms?

These symptoms are concerning and you should not wait to go to the emergency room if you are experiencing them. When you arrive, immediately state that you are COVID-positive and prepare to be isolated. Always keep your N95 mask in place.

If you can’t transport yourself to the hospital, call 911 and let them know you are COVID-postiive and experiencing severe symptoms.

What should I do if I feel my symptoms are worsening, but not severe, and may need to be seen by a physician?

It’s important to keep in scheduled contact with your medical providers so your condition can be managed appropriately. At Lyracore, we continuously maintain contact with and evaluate our patients, so that we can stay on top of their symptoms. If you feel your symptoms are worsening, call a medical provider so you can be further evaluated and screened by phone to help prevent spreading the virus.

What can I take to help myself feel better?

The usual approach to viral illness is the best course of action to relieve COVID-19 symptoms:

  • Rest
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Fluids to stay hydrated
  • Sleep
  • Take your multivitamin and, if approved by your physician, other supplements like Vitamins D, B1 and C, Zinc and Melatonin may be an option
  • Pepcid can help for GI symptoms and sometimes with fending off viral symptoms

Do not start taking any medication or supplement, even an over-the-counter product, before discussing it with your provider first

How long does it take to recover?

Recovery time varies widely from a few days in very mild cases to weeks to a few months. Some patients develop protracted symptoms and their recovery takes longer, but, on average, most people completely recover in 2-3 weeks.

Patients with allergies, asthma and immunological conditions don’t seem to be having longer recovery times or more severe illness than the general population. They need to be more closely observed, but living with these conditions does not necessarily mean they will experience more severe illness or longer recovery.

What follow-up care should I get once recovered?

There is no one-size-fits-all recommendation, and you will need to follow the instructions of your physician. At Lyracore, we tend to follow up with patients at least once a week for 2-3 weeks to follow the inflammatory state and monitor for most immediate reported complications.

From there, we will continue to be in contact with the patient for about six to eight weeks to complete some formal testing and assessments of overall lung function, as well as imaging to look for any abnormalities and to determine if there is a need for further assessments.

What are some of the long-term effects or symptoms of COVID-19?

The most commonly reported long-term symptoms are:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Joint pain
  • Periodic chest pain
  • Anxiety
  • Poor sleep
  • Dry cough

Less commonly, long-term symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty with thinking and concentration or “brain fog”
  • Depression
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Intermitten fevers
  • Fest-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)

Severe and more serious complications from COVID-19 do occur. These can include but not limited to:

  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack
  • Brain stroke
  • Inflammation of the heart
  • Fluid accumulation around lung or heart
  • Clotting disorders
  • As well as some others – the research and data reporting is ongoing

Continued monitoring of your condition is important so that we can be aware and assess these concerns.

Once I recover, am I immune to the virus? For how long?

That’s a great question – and the answer is that, as of right now, nobody knows. We do know that the immunity is protracted, and the antibodies do appear for a few weeks and disappear over 2-3 months. We aren’t sure if the disappearance of the antibodies means that the patient is at risk again. There is some encouraging data with the vaccine, but we really don’t have 100% confirmation, and won’t for a year or so, when we are able to analyze ongoing rates of infection as well as fully assess vaccination effects.

There is evidence that a repeat infection is possible and multiple cases in the US have been confirmed as a second- infection after a proven first.

Once you have recovered, you should resume current advised social distancing practices, wearing a mask, and all of the other safety measures advised to avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19.

Once I am recovered, when can I get the vaccine?

There is currently no specific recommendation, but you would definitely not want to get the vaccine during the acute phase. I would recommend a 4-6 week delay from acute illness, which is about the time when you would start developing the natural antibodies.

Should I get the vaccine?

The CDC recommends we all get required doses of any particular vaccine in a timely manner. As it stands right now, we do not have enough understanding to know whether one dose is sufficient, and as it stands right now second doses of current, FDA- approved vaccines are necessary, as recommended by the manufacturers. You will need to receive both doses to be considered fully vaccinated. Stay tuned regarding additional versions of vaccines in the next few weeks, produced by other manufacturers. We shall update our information page as such information becomes available.

Do I have a condition that means I would not want to get vaccinated?

This needs to be addressed on a case-by-case basis, and your unique case would need to be discussed with your provider. By and large, vaccination is a safe and effective means of getting protected.

Should I be concerned about variants or mutations of SARS-CoV-2

Variants and mutations of the virus are normal and expected, it is part of how viruses work. The current variant seems to be more infectious and easier to transmit from person-to-person and surface-to-person, and on occasion seem to produce more severe disease. There is nothing new we can do beyond our current preventative measures, so the only thing you can do right now is follow existing instructions.

Will the current COVID-19 vaccines protect from variants and mutations?

The available vaccines seem to be addressing the current variant, but there is ongoing research and data-collection that is continuing to determine efficacy of current vaccines against new viral mutants and variants. This is another reason it is important to continue wearing a mask, practice social distancing, and, if you have tested positive, isolating and disinfecting as mentioned earlier.

We’re here to help.

Lyracore Health Alliance is here to help guide you through this challenging time. From managing pre-existing conditions, to supporting you through a COVID-19 diagnosis and recovery, we’ll consider your unique situation and work with you to develop a solid clinical plan and monitor your condition closely. If you have questions or would like to see a practitioner, set up a telemedicine or in-person appointment today.

REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT

Coronavirus + COVID-19 Q&A With Dr. Furman of Lyracore Health Alliance: Part 3, Exposure Prevention

Welcome to Part 3 of our multi-part Q&A with Dr. Alexandre Furman, a highly-experienced pulmonary specialist and founder of Lyracore Health Alliance. Dr. Furman has been immersed in the coronavirus pandemic since the onset and took the time to answer some common questions, giving a deeper insight into coronavirus, how it spreads, and how we can protect ourselves. 

In this blog series, Dr. Furman will help explain what this virus is, what it does, what are the known complications of the infection, recent evidence, and research-based available treatments, as well as discussions of differences of immediate effects of the virus versus “early-late” complications and late complications of the viral infection, as well as possible roads to recovery.

If you haven’t already, don’t miss Part 1 and Part 2.

Please note that information and research rapidly change as we gain more experience with this virus and, while we endeavor to keep the information on this page up-to-date, the current content is based on what was known in September of 2020. Any and all of the following information is based on available published scientific research as well as general publications in regards to this novel virus. 

How can I prevent exposure?

A few concepts and techniques have been proposed and enacted to promote a faster grasp of control of infection. These include but not limited to 

  • Social distancing
  • Personal spread prophylaxis (masking)
  • Enhanced hygiene methods 
  • Surface exposure awareness.

Social Distancing

This concept and technique is aimed at separating individuals engaged in some form of social co-interaction and introducing an increase in the physical distance between interacting individuals to approximately 6 feet (or 2 meters) in every direction. 

This limits physical contact between possibly infected individuals that are presumably without symptoms of the disease and the rest of the population who are engaged with them in a social activity that’s in relatively close proximity.

The scientific basis for this principle can be found in Evaluating the Effectiveness of Social Distancing article from August 2020’s Emergency Infectious Diseases.

Personal Spread Prophylaxis (Masking)

Masking works incredibly well, primarily for protecting other individuals from oneself and especially in a case where one person is infected and not aware due to lack of symptoms.

Face coverings (including cloth and surgical masks) are highly effective at blocking infected droplets from exiting the mouth or nose. A scientific study that demonstrates this principle can be found here.

In the case of concern of droplets traveling farther than 6 feet or of airborne spread of the virus, wearing a mask is extremely effective in preventing both. 

There is now additional scientific evidence that wearing a mask also provides some level of protection to the wearer as well. 

Finally, as I am not aware of credible scientific evidence suggesting that masks are harmful to breathing, universal masking is a win-win for the prevention of COVID-19 infection spread and thus an excellent way to curb the pandemic. 

Enhanced Hygiene Methods

Anyone may become infected when they touch a surface that has virus particles on it and then touches their own mouth, nose, or eyes. Frequent and enhanced hand hygiene is one of the best weapons in the war between human and contagious diseases. 

The following are tested and proven methods to assist in our plight concur the pandemic:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Don’t touch your face. This one requires continuous conscious effort since an average person touches their face about 23 times per hour! Nearly 50% of the time, they’re touching their mouth, eyes, or nose — the same mucosal surfaces that COVID-19 prefers to use as the entrance to the human body.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow or upper arm. 
  • Avoid usual greeting gestures and comradery expressions such as handshakes, fist bumps, elbow bumps, hugs, and high-fives. 
  • And almost, most importantly, stay home if you are feeling sick, and seek appropriate medical guidance. Our team can help schedule an interactive televisit with one of our qualified medical providers quickly and safely from the comfort of your own home. 

Surface Exposure Awareness

This principle refers to the fact that any surface around us, from pens and paper, to steering wheels and gas tank covers, to window sills and doorknobs, to toilet seats and sink levers, as well as many others, are all potential carriers of disease and should be considered and treated as “infected” unless cleaned properly with an approved virucidal solution within a reasonable period of time. 

Since we’re not usually able to witness the actual act of cleaning of such surfaces, unless personally performed, all surface contact should be followed by all the enhanced hygiene methods listed above.

We’re Here To Help

If you suffer from a preexisting pulmonary condition, such as allergies, asthma or COPD, please reach out to our office to learn how we can help address your symptoms and create a plan. Stress and anxiety are normal in the face of a global pandemic, but you aren’t alone – we are here to help. To schedule an appointment with our qualified medical providers, including telemedicine appointments, please click here.

Coronavirus + COVID-19 Q&A With Dr. Furman of Lyracore Health Alliance: Part 2, Exposure & Symptoms

Welcome to part 2 of our multi-part Q&A with Dr. Alexandre Furman, a highly-experienced pulmonary specialist and founder of Lyracore Health Alliance. Dr. Furman has been immersed in the coronavirus pandemic since the onset and took the time to answer some common questions, giving a deeper insight into coronavirus, how it spreads, and how we can protect ourselves. 

In this blog series, Dr. Furman will help explain what this virus is, what it does, what are the known complications of the infection, recent evidence, and research-based available treatments, as well as discussions of differences of immediate effects of the virus versus “early-late” complications and late complications of the viral infection, as well as possible roads to recovery.

If you haven’t read Part 1, catch up here

Please note that information and research rapidly change as we gain more experience with this virus and, while we endeavor to keep the information on this page up-to-date, the current content is based on what was known in September of 2020. Any and all of the following information is based on available published scientific research as well as general publications in regards to this novel virus. 

How are we commonly exposed to SARS-CoV-2?

Many mechanisms of exposure have been proposed over the past few months. However, the most common exposure mechanism remains direct contact with an individual with current infection, symptomatic, or asymptomatic (without any symptoms).

Direct exposure is usually in the form of direct contact with the infected person’s mucous membranes, such as through kissing, coughing, sneezing, or otherwise touching mucous membranes of the infected individual. 

Exposure within your own environment is known to occur as well; for example, contact with a surface upon which an infected individual has sneezed or has been in contact with has been documented.  

Airborne transmission, such as presents in well-known infective entities such as tuberculosis, has been suspected and should be avoided if possible. The presence of the virus in the stool samples and urine samples has been reported — however, currently, such transmission is not been fully understood.

For the full list of possible mechanisms, please refer to the Centers for Disease Control website.

What should you do if you suspect you have been exposed?

This is a great question — and a very common one! If you suspect that you have had possible exposure to an individual with suspected and or proven infection, you should quarantine yourself immediately and contact your licensed medical provider for further instructions. You do not need to go to your doctor’s office or the emergency room unless you have been advised to do so, as you could risk infecting others and may not need in-person medical attention.

We’re Here To Help

If you suffer from a preexisting pulmonary condition, such as allergies, asthma, or COPD, please reach out to our office to learn how we can help address your symptoms and create a plan. Stress and anxiety are normal in the face of a global pandemic, but you aren’t alone – we are here to help. To schedule an appointment with our qualified medical providers, including telemedicine appointments, please click here.

Coronavirus + COVID-19 Q&A With Dr. Furman of Lyracore Health Alliance: Part 1

A highly-experienced pulmonary specialist, Dr. Furman has been immersed in the coronavirus pandemic since day 1. Here he answers some common questions and gives a deeper insight into coronavirus, how it spreads and how we can protect ourselves. In this blog series, Dr. Furman will help explain what this virus is, what it does, what are the known complications of the infection, recent evidence and research-based available treatments, as well as discussions of differences of immediate effects of the virus versus “early-late” complications and late complications of the viral infection, as well as possible roads to recovery.

Please note that information and research rapidly changes as we gain more experience with this virus and, while we endeavor to keep the information on this page up-to-date, the current content is based on what was known in September of 2020. Any and all of the following information is based on available published scientific research as well as general publications in regards to this novel virus. 

What exactly is COVID-19 and how does it relate to the coronavirus?

COVID-19 is the infection caused by SARS-CoV-2, a novel type of the previously well-known family of Corona Viridae viruses. These viruses are responsible for the majority of upper respiratory infections in humans. This novel type of the virus has unfortunately wreaked havoc across the world and caused morbidity and mortality over the past few months. 

What are the signs of coronavirus infection?

Not surprisingly, as with any viral infection in any human being, the most common signs of infection include:

  • malaise (feeling unwell)
  • coryza (nasal congestion)
  • febrile illness (elevated temperature which, in some individuals can reach upwards of 105-106 Fahrenheit)
  • chest pain
  • progressive shortness of breath, especially with activity
  • stomach discomfort, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • anosmia (loss of ability to smell)
  • conjunctivitis (reddening of the eye)
  • neurological and psychiatric symptoms, which may include but are not limited to migraines as well as personality changes, irritability, frank delirium (abnormal reactions to external stimulus), frank psychosis, and some others.

As you can see, all these symptoms are generally nonspecific and can be associated with other viral and bacterial infections as well as other non-infectious ailments and maladies and a wide range of true psychiatric disorders in any human being.

If any of these signs and symptoms of the disease appear in any individual, such individual is warranted to be evaluated by a licensed medical provider to further assess the need for testing and close clinical follow-up. 

We’re Here To Help

If you suffer from a preexisting pulmonary condition, such as allergies, asthma, or COPD, please reach out to our office to learn how we can help address your symptoms and create a plan. Stress and anxiety are normal in the face of a global pandemic, but you aren’t alone – we are here to help. To schedule an appointment with our qualified medical providers, including telemedicine appointments, please click here.

The Link Between Cleaning Products & Lung Health

The Link Between Cleaning Products & Lung Health

Are our cleaning products harming our lungs? That’s what Force of Nature, the creators of a non-toxic cleaning system that makes an EPA-registered disinfectant, wanted to know. They reached out to our own Dr. Alexandre M. Furman to find out how cleaning products affect our lungs, especially those with chronic conditions like asthma, allergies, and COPD. Here’s what Dr. Furman had to say on this important issue and the simple steps you can take to protect your lungs and airways.

What You Need To Know About Cleaning Chemicals & Lung Health

The link between cleaning chemicals and lung health has been in the news since a recent study by the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that lung function declined at a greater rate in women who had been exposed to high levels of spray cleaning chemicals over time, as compared to women who had not. Women who worked as professional cleaners saw the greatest decline over the course of the study, but women who used spray cleaners once per week also saw a greater decline than usual.

In an otherwise healthy individual, the level of exposure may be directly linked to the severity of their decline and the symptoms they experience. “For those patients with consistent and prolonged exposure due to professional obligations, such as cleaning personnel and chemical industry workers, such exposure may present a significant hazard to lung and general health in the form of direct lung injuries, allergic-type reactions, reactive airway symptoms, among others,” explains Dr. Furman. However, in patients with chronic conditions, the risks of exposure to these chemicals are higher.

Allergies, Asthma and Chronic Conditions

If you or someone in your family lives with a chronic respiratory condition like asthma, allergies or COPD, it’s important to avoid exposure to chemical cleaning products. 

“Patients with chronic lung conditions such as asthma and COPD, as well as predisposing conditions such as allergic rhinitis or sinusitis, for example, are at a significantly higher risk of suffering sudden worsening of the symptoms (called Exacerbations) and requiring additional urgent therapies upon exposure to harmful chemical substances,” Dr. Furman explains. 

“Lung function preservation is one of the most important goals in the treatment of patients with chronic lung diseases. It’s well known that the rate of Exacerbations directly affects the rate of lung function deterioration, which may lead to eventual demise; Therefore, those living with COPD and asthma, etc, should avoid exposure to chemicals, if possible, and protect themselves in unavoidable situations with barrier devices, such as respirator or mask.”

5 Tips For Safer Cleaning

Keeping your house clean and free of irritants like dust and mold are some of the top tips for allergy and asthma sufferers, which means you may be using more (or harsher) cleaning products than necessary in an attempt to reduce triggers. Here are some quick tips to help you avoid overexposure.

1. Decrease the number of chemicals you use.

Always use the gentlest products possible when cleaning. For example, using a chemical-free option, like warm water or Force of Nature, to wipe a dusty surface exposes you to zero harmful toxins while effectively eliminating a potential allergy trigger from your home.

2. Avoid caustic spray products.

Spray products push chemicals into the air for you to inhale, so take particular care when selecting them and avoid harsh products like air fresheners, oven cleaners, and fabric softeners. Avoiding fragranced products is our number one tip for reducing your exposure to harmful chemicals. Use databases like the Environmental Working Group’s Guide To Healthy Cleaning to find products that are safer to use in your home. 

3. Ventilate the area you are cleaning.

Always use products in a ventilated area to reduce the amount inhaled into your respiratory system.

4. Don’t mix products.

Products like bleach and ammonia are toxic on their own but mixed they can trigger a dangerous chemical reaction. If you or a family member are injured by or accidentally ingest a cleaning product, call Poison Control Center toll-free at 1-800-222-1222 as even products that are labeled “natural” can contain chemicals that are unsafe in high doses or if ingested.

5. Keep your specialist in the loop.

If you live with a chronic condition like asthma or allergies, your specialist can help you get ahead of these concerns. “Patients should discuss their exposure risks with the specialist and come up with specific plans for barrier methods and avoidance techniques as well as awareness of symptoms of exacerbations of any cause and steps to address such symptoms as soon as possible,” states Dr. Furman.

 

About Dr. Furman

Dr. Alexandre M. Furman, M.D., FCCP, FCCM, launched Lyracore Health Alliance in order to practice medicine the way he believes it should be practiced: with compassionate communication and leading-edge research and techniques. His experienced team at Lyracore Health Alliance specializes in both General and Interventional Pulmonary Services, providing accessible, high-quality medical care with highly specialized interventional pulmonary and critical care services in Tampa, Florida.

 

Dr. Furman was interviewed for his medical opinion and does not officially endorse any products mentioned in this interview.