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Sars (severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a condition caused by a virus that damages the air sacs of the lungs. The lung tissues become inflamed and scarred. The damaged air sacs do not allow oxygen to get into your bloodstream, which may cause respiratory failure. Respiratory failure means you cannot breathe well enough to get oxygen to the cells of your body. The SARS virus is related to other viruses that cause common colds and diarrhea. It may be found in saliva, sputum, or discharge from the nose of an infected person.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Avoid the spread of germs:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Carry germ-killing gel with you. You can use the gel to clean your hands when there is no soap and water available.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you have washed your hands first.
- Always cover your mouth when you cough. Cough into a tissue or your shirtsleeve so you do not spread germs from your hands.
- Try to avoid people who have a cold or the flu. If you are sick, stay away from others as much as possible.
- Inhalers and a mask: Use metered-dose inhalers and a high-flow mask to help open your airway so you can breathe easier. This prevents the SARS virus from spreading in the air. Do not use a nebulizer machine or humidifier that increases air moisture. Ask your primary healthcare provider for more information on using inhalers and masks correctly.
- Oxygen: You may need extra oxygen to help you breathe easier. It may be given through a plastic mask over your mouth and nose. It may be given through a nasal cannula, or prongs, instead of a mask. A nasal cannula is a pair of short, thin tubes that rest just inside your nose. Tell your caregiver if your nose gets dry or if you get redness or sores on your skin. Never smoke or let anyone else smoke in the same room while your oxygen is on. Doing so may cause a fire.
- Smoking: Do not let anyone smoke near you. Smoke can make your coughing or breathing worse. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask your primary healthcare provider for information if you need help quitting.
Rest when you feel it is needed. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- You are coughing up bloody sputum.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have sudden shortness of breath.
- You have a fast heartbeat or chest pain.
- You feel so dizzy that you have trouble standing up.
- Your lips and fingernails turn blue.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.