Trends in symptoms of patients hospitalized because of omicron

Published: January 4, 2022 6:08 PM EST
Updated: January 4, 2022 7:30 PM EST

With COVID-19 cases rising once again, many are looking for hope. One positive sign we’ve seen is that number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients aren’t facing the same degree of life-threatening conditions we saw last summer or fall.

WINK News health & medical reporter Amy Oshier looks into why that may be happening.

Lee Health says it wishes there was a way to send people home safely instead of keeping them at the hospital. With hospital admissions rising, WINK News asked an ER doctor for a list of symptoms that make hospitalized ER patients so sick.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations at Lee Health rose 66% over the weekend. As of Tuesday morning, Lee Health had 178 COVID-19 patients isolated within its hospitals.

95% of COVID-19 cases nationwide are now the omicron strain. However, studies are saying that omicron is causing more mild cases than previous strains and causes less severe lung damage.

So WINK News wanted to know why so many patients are still in the hospital. Dr. Timothy Dougherty is the emergency department director at Cape Coral Hospital. “We are still having, unfortunately, admit some patients that are having respiratory symptoms and are requiring, in some cases, intensive care for their respiratory components,” Dr. Dougherty said. “In addition to that, some patients are having predominant gi complaints. So nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, to the point that they’re extremely dehydrated and, and stressing their kidney function. So those patients need to be admitted for hydration and control.”

Previous strains, including delta, frequently moved from the upper respiratory system: the nose and throat to the lungs. This would cause breathing difficulty and scarring, put many patients on ventilators and often, at death’s doorstep. But, these things aren’t as standard with the omicron variant.

So far, we have not had to rely on ventilators as much as we had from delta or the previous strain. That could change,” Dougherty said.

Hospitals stays could become shorter as well. Patients may need less intensive treatment. “If they do require remdesivir, for example, might not require the full five-day course, they might get better after two or three days,” said Dr. Dougherty.

Of course, no hospitalizations would be better still. An important tip is to stay away from people who are sick. Also, getting vaccinated can reduce your chance of contracting COVID-19 altogether.