what is PPE? personal protective equipment

PPE: What exactly is personal protective equipment (PPE)?

PPE has become a popular acronym in the past weeks, as reporters have been constantly discussing the critical shortage of personal protective equipment.  Personal protective equipment acts as a barrier between infectious materials such as viral and bacterial contaminants and your skin, nose, eyes, or mouth, and is crucial in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

PPE acts as a barrier between infectious materials such as viral and bacterial contaminants and your skin, mouth, nose, or eyes (mucous membranes). The barrier has the potential to block transmission of contaminants from blood, body fluids, or respiratory secretions. PPE may also protect patients who are at high risk for contracting infections through a surgical procedure or who have a medical condition, such as, an immunodeficiency, from being exposed to substances or potentially infectious material brought in by visitors and healthcare workers.

The most common articles of personal protective equipment include:

Respirators: Reduces wearer’s exposure to particles including small particle aerosols and large droplets.

surgical masks

Surgical masks: Surgical masks are fluid resistant and provide protection against large droplets, splashes, or sprays of bodily or other hazardous fluids. Protects the patient from the wearer’s respiratory emissions.

safety goggles anti-fog

Medical goggles: Appropriately fitted goggles with a manufacturer’s anti-fog coating provide the most reliable and practical eye protection from splashes, sprays, and respiratory droplets.

face shield

Face shields: Protects the wearer’s entire face from chemical splashes, or potentially infectious materials.  Face shields are commonly used as an infection control alternative to goggles.

medical gloves ppe

Gloves: Medical gloves are disposable and usually made of either latex, nitrile, or vinyl material. The FDA reviews these devices to ensure that performance criteria such as tear resistance, leak resistance, and bio-compatibility are met.

 

What is considered PPE?

According to the WHO, essential personal protective equipment will vary situationally.  For example, the equipment required to treat an Ebola patient would be different than the equipment required a COVID-19 patient.  The coronavirus is spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.  These droplets can land in the mouths, noses, or eyes of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.  Because of this, it is recommended to wear a respirator accompanied by either a face shield or a pair of medical goggles.  The proper use of these materials, frequent hand washing, and social distancing will significantly reduce the probability of contracting the coronavirus.

 

Coronavirus symptoms

Coronavirus Symptoms: 10 Key COVID-19 Symptoms

Every day, scientists learn more about the coronavirus and the symptoms that it causes. 

According the WHO, people with COVID-19 generally develop signs and symptoms on an average of 5-6 days after infection (mean incubation period 5-6 days, range 1-14 days).  These symptoms include but are not limited to:

1. Fever

2. Dry cough

3. Fatigue

4. Sputum production

5. Shortness of breath

6. Chills and body aches

7. Sudden confusions

8. Digestive issues

9. Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

10. Loss of smell and taste

+ other common early symptoms

 1. Fever

According to a report from the WHO, 87.9% of COVID-19 patients experience a fever, making it the most common symptom.  “One of the most common presentations of fever is that your temperature goes up in the late afternoon and early evening. It’s a common way that viruses produce fever” said infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner.

2. Dry cough

The WHO also reported that 67.7% of COVID-19 patients experience dry cough.  This cough has been described as a dry cough that is felt deep in the chest, around the breastbone or sternum.  The cough is typically accompanied by an irritated burning sensation in the bronchial tubes.

3. Fatigue

The WHO report found that 38.1% of patients reported feeling fatigued.  Fatigue has been a common early symptom and is easily overlooked.

4. Sputum production

Increased sputum production, commonly referred to as Phlegm, has been reported in 33.4% of 55,924 COVID-19 infected subjects.

5. Shortness of breath

Of the 55,924 COVID-19 patients that the WHO studied, 18.6% reported shortness of breath.  While it isn’t usually an early symptom of COVID-19, it has been regarded as the most dangerous symptom.  The CDC recommends that if you’re experiencing “persistent pain or pressure in the chest” and “bluish lips or face”, which can indicate a lack of oxygen, to seek medical attention immediately.

6. Chills and body aches

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, who is battling the virus from his home in New York, said “It was like somebody was beating me like a pinata.  I was shivering so much that I chipped my tooth”.   Not everyone will have such a severe reaction, experts say.  In fact, only 11.4% of patients experience chills, according to a report from the WHO.

7. Sudden confusions

The CDC says that sudden confusion or inability to wake up and be alert may be a serious indicator that you require emergency care.

8. Digestive issues

In the study performed by the WHO, 5% of subjects experienced vomiting and 3.7% experienced diarrhea.  In a separate study performed in China, nearly half of the 200 patients experienced digestive symptoms.

9. Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

Research indicates that between 1-3% of coronavirus patients also had conjunctivitis.  Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the thin, transparent layer of tissue, called conjunctiva, that covers the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelid.

10. Loss of smell and taste

A loss of smell and taste has emerged as one of the most unusual early signs of COVID-19.  This symptom is referred to as anosmia, and can be an early indicator in many coronavirus cases.

 

Other common symptoms include headache, sore throat, and congestion.  In fact, the WHO report found that of 55,924 COVID-19 patients, 13.6% experienced headaches, 13.9% experienced sore throat, and 4.8% experienced nasal congestion.

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread across the world, we’re working around the clock to deliver essential solutions to combat this global pandemic.  To protect yourself and the people around you, we invite you to browse our portfolio of personal protective equipment (PPE).

 

Sources:

www.who.int

www.cnn.com

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