Am in the at-risk category if I’ve had cancer? Dr Hilary answers your questions

ENTERING our third week of lockdown, the country is slowly adjusting to this strange new way of life. But as coronavirus continues to claim more victims, many of you are understandably still fearful about catching it. More than 10,000 of you have got in touch to ask Dr Hilary Jones a question.

Here, Dr Hilary – Health Editor for ITV’s Good Morning Britain and Lorraine – tells EMMA PIETRAS what symptoms to look out for, who is most at risk of catching the virus and what to do about other medical emergencies.

⚠ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

Am I in the at-risk category if I’ve had cancer in the past?
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Dr Hilary Jones is here to help Sun readers and answer your coronavirus questions
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Q. I had lung resection surgery five years ago following chemotherapy for testicular cancer. Am I in the at-risk category?

A. People usually make a very good recovery after having a section of their lung removed and five years on from chemotherapy and surgery you should be in good overall health.

You would not be categorised under the group of people who are particularly vulnerable but, of course, you still need to stay at home when possible and keep physical distance from other people.

Q. If you get Covid-19 and get over it can you catch it again? Or are you more immune?

A. As this is such a new virus we are unable to answer this question at the current time. You probably know that infection with some viruses confers lifelong immunity, such as mumps, rubella and measles. But respiratory viruses such as flu and other coronaviruses are different.

It is likely that people who have had Covid-19 will be immune for at least several weeks or months and cannot get it again during that time. But until we have reliable antibody tests, we cannot be sure how long immunity will last.

Q. How can you tell the difference between a regular cough and the cough you get when you have coronavirus?

A. The key characteristic of the coronavirus cough is that it is dry, persistent and new. This is different from a “productive” cough when you bring up phlegm and mucus — and different from the chronic cough smokers experience.

“Persistent” here means you are coughing many times every hour for at least a day or two.

Q. I’m 43 and take medication for high blood pressure. I’ve had an upset stomach for more than a week. I worry it might be linked to coronavirus. What should I do?

A. Infection with coronavirus can cause digestive symptoms, such as diarrhoea, but that normally occurs in association with other more typical symptoms, such as a new, dry, persistent cough and raised temperature. Your symptom on its own does not mean you need to self-isolate but keep an eye on things and go to 111 online if you need further guidance.

Q. My son, who is 24, and daughter, 21, both have congenital central hypoventilation syndrome and both are on BiPap ventilators overnight. Are they at higher risk and should they self-isolate for 12 weeks?

A. Yes, your children are in a high-risk group and therefore need to be extra-careful. I appreciate that self-isolation for 12 weeks is difficult.

But it makes absolute sense for them to take every precaution to avoid coming down with this infection, which for them could have serious consequences.

Q. My husband was admitted to hospital two weeks ago. He was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia and Covid-19. He is still recovering at home but is much better now. It has been three weeks since he first started showing symptoms. Can I take him out for a walk?

A. Your husband is certainly over the worst and I am very pleased to hear that he is recovering, albeit slowly. I am sure he will still be feeling very tired and lacking in energy.

It would probably do him good to go out for a bit of fresh air and a walk and to build up his exercise tolerance slowly. He must, of course, still physically distance from other people — just like everyone else.

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Q. A friend has been in really bad dental pain. Her dentist won’t see her. How can she access urgent dental treatment?

A. Dentists are closed for routine work but severe persistent toothache constitutes a dental emergency. If your painkillers aren’t working, try a warm, salty mouthwash or a mouthwash using hydrogen peroxide to clear out any debris and bacteria.

Also try an ice pack on the inflamed area and apply a little bit of clove oil. Failing that, go online to NHS111. The last thing you want to do is to go to A&E at the moment.

Q. How do I get my monthly prescriptions delivered? I am over 70, plus have an underlying illness.

A. Contact your usual pharmacy.

Many already have a delivery service and the Government has pledged money to assist this process for other chemists. You should not need to worry about supplies.

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