RSV, COVID-19 or Flu? How to know what you or your loved one has.
February 21, 2023
When winter comes, it sometimes brings along an unwelcome gift: cough, congestion, and a runny or stuffy nose.
Learn the Science Behind the Vaccine
Memorial Hermann Health System has been on the forefront of COVID-19 prevention and treatment throughout Greater Houston. Our affiliated physicians are dedicated to staying prepared for future spikes in transmission and treating patients with the most up-to-date antiviral measures.
Since the start of the pandemic, scientists and researchers have learned a great deal about how the virus mutates and spreads, but there is still work to be done. We are here to help you stay healthy through preventive measures including vaccines, and we are ready to treat your symptoms to help reduce the risk of severe illness if you contract the virus.
COVID-19 is an infectious respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The virus was first reported in 2019 and spread around the world causing a pandemic.
A coronavirus is a type of virus that causes respiratory symptoms. This particular coronavirus, COVID-19, can result in mild, moderate or severe illness. Most people experience only mild to moderate illness, but COVID-19 can lead to hospitalization or death in some patients.
Viruses change and mutate, creating new versions of the original disease. Sometimes a new variant disappears quickly, but other variants may be more widespread and last longer in the community. As we continue to navigate COVID-19, new variants will appear, and scientists cannot predict which ones will be mild and which will have a more significant impact.
The most widespread variants of COVID-19 have been delta and omicron.
Delta variant: Delta was first identified in the United States in early 2021 and was significantly more contagious than the original strain of COVID-19 and earlier variants.
Omicron variant: Omicron was first identified in the United States in late 2021 and is still the dominant variant in the community. It spreads more easily than the delta variant, but typically causes less severe symptoms. There are additional sub-variants of omicron that continue to spread.
COVID-19 spreads from person to person through small droplets that contain the virus. Infectious disease specialists believe you can be infected by COVID-19 in these ways:
Once the virus enters your body through your nose, mouth or eyes, it multiplies and eventually reaches the lungs and other parts of the body. You can be infected with COVID-19 and spread it to others, even if you do not have symptoms. It often takes several days before symptoms appear, but you are still contagious during this time.
Different people experience different symptoms of COVID-19, and some people do not have any symptoms (asymptomatic). It can take between two days and 14 days after being exposed and infected before any symptoms appear; symptoms usually begin about three days to five days after being exposed. The vast majority of infections will present with symptoms within seven days after exposure, although the full incubation period is 14 days.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and often include:
A simple laboratory test can diagnose COVID-19. Testing a sample of mucus from the nose or throat can identify the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
There are two main types of tests used to diagnose COVID-19: antigen tests and molecular tests.
A nasal swab is used to collect mucus from one or both nostrils. Results are usually available within 30 minutes. Home tests that are self-administered are examples of rapid antigen tests. The antigen test is most reliable when symptoms are present, but it can also be used to test after being exposed to someone with an active infection.
A swab is used to collect mucus from one or both nostrils or saliva from the throat. The turnaround time for test results will depend on which specific test is used. Some are rapid tests with results available within an hour, while other versions require more time (up to three days) to process the results. This type of test is considered the “gold standard” and is more reliable than an antigen test.
If an individual is experiencing COVID-19 emergency warning signs such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake and/or pale, gray or blue colored skin, lips or nailbeds, they should seek emergency medical care immediately. If an individual does not have any of the above emergency warning signs and is just looking for a routine COVID-19 test, please visit any of the sites listed above for more information.
The type of treatment needed for COVID-19 depends on the severity of symptoms. Patients who do not experience symptoms (asymptomatic), or experience only mild to moderate symptoms, usually do not need any treatment or can manage symptoms with over-the-counter medications.
Patients at risk for severe infection, or those who are already experiencing symptoms, may need antiviral medication, immunotherapy treatment or breathing assistance.
Oral antiviral medications help improve symptoms and may reduce the risk of hospitalization and death for certain patients with COVID-19. Oral antivirals require a prescription from a health care provider and should begin within a few days of diagnosis in order to be effective.
Patients who are not able to receive oral antiviral medication may be considered for monoclonal antibody therapy. This treatment helps support a patient’s immune response by giving them a boost of antibodies that are ready to go.
Monoclonal antibody therapy is helpful for patients who are not able to make their own antibodies effectively, or for those at risk of more severe infection. The antibodies in this treatment are created in a lab and designed to specifically target COVID-19 and help reduce the amount of virus in the body. Therapeutic antibodies are most often given as an injection. Therapy should begin within a few days of diagnosis in order to be effective.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization for monoclonal antibody treatment for high-risk or immunocompromised patients.
Learn more about Memorial Hermann’s monoclonal antibody therapy »
If patients experience worsening respiratory symptoms, they should contact their health care provider for assistance. Patients with severe respiratory symptoms and decreased oxygen levels may need supplemental oxygen supplied through a tube in the nostrils. Other patients with a more severe infection may require mechanical ventilation (ventilator). This involves inserting a tube through the mouth and into the trachea to deliver supplemental oxygen.
The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone ages 5 years and older receive the primary series of COVID-19, and everyone ages 12 years and older also receive a booster. Moderately or severely immunocompromised people may be advised to follow a different vaccine schedule.
Vaccines train the body’s immune system to recognize and fight the virus. Based on clinical trials and observations following the administration of more than hundreds of millions of doses, we know the COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death.
Vaccines from three pharmaceutical manufacturers are currently available in the United States:
FDA-approved for ages 18+
Available for ages 18+ under Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA
Learn more about COVID-19 vaccination »
In addition to being vaccinated, it is helpful to follow similar health guidelines that protect you from other viruses like the flu:
February 21, 2023
When winter comes, it sometimes brings along an unwelcome gift: cough, congestion, and a runny or stuffy nose.
July 7, 2022
The bad news: omicron subvariants have continued to spawn and spread even faster than the highly contagious omicron itself.
July 7, 2022
Some people get COVID-19 and barely notice it. Others land in the ICU fighting for their lives. Why is that? COVID pneumonia—when the two diseases merge—often may be to blame.
May 26, 2022
A promising drug for COVID-19 treatment is Paxlovid. In fact, for those vulnerable to being severely sick, this antiviral pill can lower their chances of being hospitalized or dying.
January 6, 2022
By now you may know someone—if not several people—with omicron, the latest and fastest spreading strain of COVID-19.
December 2, 2021
A new COVID-19 variant, omicron, has reached the USA’s horizon.
November 3, 2021
Now that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has been approved for emergency use in children ages 5 to 11, you may have questions.
October 22, 2021
You may be worried that your immunity against COVID-19 is dwindling. If you were fully vaccinated more than 6 months ago, it may be, says Binita Patel, PharmD, MS, vice president of pharmacy services at Memorial Hermann Health System.
September 15, 2021
The flu may have been less threatening last year, but that’s thanks to many of us staying at home much of the fall and winter of 2020.
September 8, 2021
Booster shots are here for some, on the horizon for others and a relief for all. Right now the focus is those who are 65 years of age, older residents in long-term care settings, those who are immunocompromised and those at increased risk for occupational COVID-19 exposure.
August 31, 2021
Using ring-worm drugs intended for animals to treat or thwart COVID-19 is a load of manure.
August 23, 2021
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today fully approved use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine—with no reservations.
August 17, 2021
Pregnant women are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19—and the least vaccinated.
August 17, 2021
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC have approved booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines for moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals.
August 9, 2021
Your kids have been your priority since the first time you held them in your arms. Now the COVID-19 Delta variant is spreading as their in-school classes approach.
August 9, 2021
These are scary times—especially if you face sending your unvaccinated children back to in-person school or daycare while COVID-19’s Delta variant lurks.
August 2, 2021
While COVID-19 was initially considered a respiratory illness, it soon became apparent that COVID-19 could affect multiple organs within the body, including the heart—and even in those who were asymptomatic for COVID-19 and/or who had no prior heart problems. What’s more, those heart issues can l...
August 2, 2021
As if having COVID-19 weren’t enough, nearly one-quarter of individuals who recover from their initial COVID-19 infection suffer from at least one persistent, recurrent or new symptom 30 days after their initial COVID-19 diagnosis, a recent study found.
July 21, 2021
The news is getting around—as is the fast and fierce Delta strain of the coronavirus. And yes. Even the vaccinated can test positive for it.
July 21, 2021
With new cases surging nearly 70 percent in a single week due to Delta, now is the time to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if you haven’t already, reports the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
July 14, 2021
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine already scores an A+ for people 16 and older. But now that it’s available for 12-to-15 year-olds, you may wonder if the vaccine’s safety makes the grade for your children.
July 8, 2021
You’re surely eager to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind you. But if you or your children are not vaccinated, not so fast. The latest coronavirus villain—the Delta variant—has proven to be the fastest and most infectious spreader.
May 17, 2021
Great news: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration have approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12- to 15-years old and the vaccine’s efficacy is 100 percent for that age range.
May 10, 2021
Research gives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine an A+ for children ages 12 to 15 years old. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve it for that age group soon.
May 10, 2021
It’s still being debated whether employers, airlines, schools, daycares, restaurants, sports arenas, assisted living facilities, foreign countries or others could or should bar entrance to those who don’t prove they’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
April 28, 2021
Fact: By the end of this day, 17 Americans will die waiting for an organ transplant. They’re among the 107,000 children, women and men currently standing by on the national transplant waiting list. By year’s end, only 39,000 will get an organ.
April 26, 2021
Today, doctors and many top health agencies are urging pregnant women as well as new or prospective moms to get vaccinated. So, what gives? We’ve got the real deal on what’s led to this change in tune endorsed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Academy of Obstetri...
March 25, 2021
Superwoman has nothing on you. Even before the pandemic, you seemingly did it all. But then COVID-19 came along. Suddenly, you may have felt trapped amid chaos and cramped spaces—while also being stripped of grandparents, teachers, family friends and other key players.
March 22, 2021
If you need another reason to get the vaccine, here’s a big one: A taste of freedom. The CDC’s new guidelines say, once fully vaccinated, you will be free to enjoy some liberties we once took for granted.
March 18, 2021
How is the vaccine different from the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines? How effective is the new vaccine? How does the vaccine work? We answer these questions and more.
February 26, 2021
It’s okay if feel uncertain about getting a COVID-19 vaccination. It’s only natural to be unsure of something so new. So, what is the real deal on the claims you’ve heard? Read on as we separate fact from fiction.
February 26, 2021
You don’t like needles. Plus you’re anxious about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines—or the exposure of waiting in line to get one. We hear you. Here are answers to common COVID-19 vaccine questions from infectious disease experts.
February 26, 2021
COVID-19 can cause uncomfortable symptoms, long-term disabilities or death—and there is no way to know how it would affect you. Even before you know you’re sick, you could spread the disease to family, friends and others. The results could be tragic.
February 11, 2021
If one mask is good, are two or three even better? When it comes to double-masking against COVID-19, the answer is yes, says Linda Yancey, MD, infectious disease specialist at Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital and Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center.
February 2, 2021
We eat; therefore, we are. Eating is not just sustenance, but also a source of joy and comfort. So, if you lose your sense of taste and smell, even temporarily, you may feel lost or confused about what to eat and how much.
January 22, 2021
Lethargy, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances and extreme light or sound sensitivity from migraines may send you to bed. But you don’t have to take these headaches lying down.
January 19, 2021
A far more contagious coronavirus variant—first spotted in the United Kingdom—has arrived in Houston, Harris County Public Health officials say. B.1.1.7, as it’s called, is up to 70 percent more contagious than other variants of the coronavirus.
December 19, 2020
In one week we’ve gone from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommending one coronavirus vaccine to two. So how does newcomer Moderna compare to Pfizer vaccine? And what does that mean for you?
December 14, 2020
After nine months in a pandemic, the news of a COVID-19 vaccine brings welcomed relief and hope. But, as you make decisions for yourself or your family, the news can feel overwhelming. Memorial Hermann is here to help.
December 11, 2020
As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, there is conflicting information about the coronavirus—and now the COVID-19 vaccine—online. Here are five common myths about the vaccine that you should know the truth about.
November 17, 2020
You may think you got off lightly with a minor bout of COVID-19. But the coronavirus may not be done with you—even if tests say otherwise. The latest research indicates a devastating second act for some survivors due to damage from COVID-19 — or the body’s response to it.
October 30, 2020
Houston temperatures are dropping, but the number of COVID-19 cases are rising. What is causing this surge and what can we do to stay safe?
October 28, 2020
Most people know that the immunocompromised and elderly are at higher risks for serious health complications related to COVID-19, but health professionals now emphasize another risk factor: teen vaping. Here's why.
October 19, 2020
When we hit the road, we hope to escape. But wherever we go, COVID-19 already has arrived. So how do we stay safe?
September 24, 2020
It’s easy to get stressed out when hair strands clog your shower drain or cover your brush. Some hair loss is normal. Both sexes shed 50 to 100 hairs daily–out of 100,000 hairs on our scalps. But if you’re concerned or experiencing heavier hair loss, see your dermatologist or p...
September 22, 2020
A healthy pregnancy starts before conception. Smart choices with nutrition, exercise and daily habits are the building blocks your baby needs to have the best start possible.
September 15, 2020
Organizing and preparing your home for a newborn goes beyond picking out color-coordinated bedding for the nursery. Especially during the pandemic, taking steps to ensure your home is clean and safe is one of the most important things you can do. A little advance planning goes a long way....
August 25, 2020
As time has progressed, we’ve learned more about COVID-19. And not all of the developments have been encouraging. For those without a medical degree, Dr. Annamaria Macaluso Davidson explains terms and expectations for antibodies, vaccines and herd immunity—and how scientist...
August 24, 2020
As if being hard-hit by a global pandemic wasn’t enough for Houston to handle, the National Weather Service predicts a harsh hurricane season through November. Dr. Noor Alzarka suggests adopting the following measures to he...
August 19, 2020
The pains of working from home extend beyond having kids and animals interrupt your focus and phone calls by entering your “work” space.
August 12, 2020
While the effects of COVID-19 on the respiratory system, including the lungs, are well known, doctors and scientists are discovering that the virus also directly and indirectly impacts the cardiovascular system, including the heart, often with devastating effects. It's such a novel virus. But one...
August 10, 2020
Wearing a mask has become part of our daily routine. Unfortunately, myths about this important safety measure have become common, too. Dr. Linda Yancey, MD, infectious disease specialist at Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital helps us sort fact from fiction.
August 6, 2020
We are all tired of hearing about COVID-19. And, it’s not uncommon to feel drained from watching the never-ending news reports, statistics and graphs, and wondering when life will be normal again. After months of dealing wi...
August 3, 2020
You’ve been exposed to COVID-19. Now what? Here’s what you need to know according to Dr. Halie Shah at Memorial Hermann Medical Group Clear Lake.
July 28, 2020
During the global pandemic, you may be wondering: is it safe to go into a healthcare provider’s office or clinic? How do you recover from delivery while avoiding COVID-19? How do you keep your baby healthy?
July 22, 2020
With onsite classes set to start this fall—and camps and daycare already open—you must do your homework to decide what’s right for your family during the coronavirus crisis.
July 14, 2020
If your fitness routine has moved from the gym to your living room, here are tips on how to break a sweat without the fancy equipment.
July 9, 2020
If the pandemic—and related fears—have impacted your mental and physical health, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s normal.
July 7, 2020
“Wash your hands!” In the past, you may have told that to your kids—before meals—just as your parents told you. But the rules have changed with the COVID-19 pandemic.
June 16, 2020
Thanks to COVID-19, our stress—and comfort food consumption—may be off the charts. That’s why tummy troubles could be a regular but unwelcome guest in your home
June 8, 2020
Certain groups, including older people and people of all ages with serious underlying health conditions, including obesity, are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
June 1, 2020
Is there a relationship between COVID-19 (or SARS-COV-2, the new coronavirus that causes it) and stroke? What can you do to help protect yourself from stroke, during the pandemic or anytime? What measures are hospitals taking to help ensure patients receive care quickly and safely?
May 28, 2020
While it’s uncertain when sports programs will rebound, things will eventually return to normal, albeit likely a different normal. What can athletes do now to try to maintain their edge? And how can they safely return, once programs resume?
May 26, 2020
Anxiety, fear, sadness, loneliness, disappointment, depression. Your children may be dealing with such feelings in the COVID-19 crisis.
May 25, 2020
Now that some restrictions are being lifted, we can look toward resuming our normal lives. Memorial Hermann–affiliated physicians remind us that early detection is important, and taking time for routine health screenings should be a priority.
May 22, 2020
As summer approaches, stay-at-home orders are lifted and we begin to shift to a new normal, how can we protect our older loved ones, including our parents and grandparents? Memorial Hermann Medical Group Fairfield’s primary care family medicine physician, Toni Odumosu, MD, offers tips for k...
May 19, 2020
If we’ve formed new habits, which should we keep, and which should we kick? And how should we go about breaking new bad habits?
May 14, 2020
Your workouts may have taken a backseat these past few months, but not to worry. Here's how to safely resume an exercise routine.
May 11, 2020
Quarantine fatigue has taken its toll. We’ve watched everything on Netflix, planted our spring gardens and reorganized every drawer and cupboard in the house. We’re more than ready to spend quality time—in person—with family and friends. As stay-at-home restrictions begin ...
May 9, 2020
It’s time to get back to the basics of good health. Although we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians are taking precautions to safely resume preventive care, both in their offices and virtually, with telehealth audio and video options.
May 7, 2020
Life will never be the same for children who grew up in the COVID-19 era—and that’s challenging. But parents can help their children understand and adjust to the new normal.
April 29, 2020
Masks can keep you from infecting others with the coronavirus via invisible airborne droplets when you cough, sneeze or breathe. You may be contagious even if you don’t have any symptoms.
April 10, 2020
When we think of Easter, Passover or Ramadan, we think of religious gatherings, huge feasts and celebrating with tons of relatives we might rarely see. Now more than ever, it’s vital to stay home for the holidays. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice observing tradition with fa...
April 10, 2020
Be prepared. It’s how we must roll these days. And given that many who get COVID-19 will recover at home, it pays to have an emergency at-home care kit ready in advance. Here's what you should have to nurse the infected and protect the rest of your family or housemates.
April 9, 2020
When it comes to COVID-19, it's clear that fever is a hallmark of the infection. But how high, exactly, is too high? How do you properly take your temperature? How often? What about children? The answers to these questions vary based on the person and the circumstance. Dr. Michael L. Chang, pedia...
April 7, 2020
Most people with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, recover on their own. But it’s important to know when to seek medical attention. You or a family member should seek emergency care if you show signs of respiratory or cardiac distress. These include labored breathing, bluish ...
April 2, 2020
A sudden loss of smell or taste can be one of the earliest signs of COVID-19. “But losing your sense of smell doesn’t mean with certainty that you have coronavirus, so don’t be alarmed,” says Dr. Sreekrishna K. Donepudi, an otolaryngologist with Memorial Hermann Medical Gr...
March 31, 2020
Social distancing is a phrase regularly used in our vocabulary now. You’ve followed the recommended precautions, but a family member deems this order unnecessary. Here are tips to have an honest conversation with your loved one. How do you handle someone in your family who's not taking "soc...
March 27, 2020
Whether the organic items on your shopping list are unavailable or you’re limiting your grocery store runs, many staple ingredients can be used for healthy meals and last longer than you think. Here’s how to curate a quarantine pantry and refrigerator. What are some staple ingredients...
March 23, 2020
Taking your work from office to home can be an adjustment, especially if you’re sharing the space with a partner or kiddos. Try and use this new working from home reality to create a healthy routine and keep your mental health top of mind. Many of us have quickly shifted to home offices and...
March 20, 2020
If you’re homeschooling during COVID-19, you’re not alone. Social distancing has become the new normal for families, and you may have questions on how to let ‘kids be kids’ while keeping everyone safe—and sane. Being inside, away from friends and displaced from routi...