Possible treatment for COVID-19 being tested in Phoenix

Dr. Thomas Ardiles, a pulmonary and critical care physician at Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix, is part of a study on INOpulse Inhaled Nitric Oxide Therapy for treating COVID-19.

"We realize that a virus that mankind had not seen can cause so much devastation," he said. "Nitric oxide is something we already work with, but not something we were very familiar with its potential anti-viral properties, so based on some data that came out of the first of the pandemic in the early 2000s, we felt it was worth trying to see if it works."

The clinical trial is now in phase three, with two patients at Banner a part of this phase of the trial.

"The nitric oxide is given in addition with oxygen -- they're both combined, so as a patient weans off oxygen and we get to a lower level of oxygen, that's when we think its the time to try the patient off oxygen," Dr. Ardiles said. "And if the patient comes off of oxygen and nitric oxide safely, we consider the treatment has concluded."

So far, 180 patients with COVID-19 from 18 hospitals across the country have received the treatment. Preliminary data showed on day 14 that 73% of the patients recovered with a mortality rate of 6.3%.

"We just enrolled our first and second medical patient[sic] a couple of days ago, so the study is looking to enroll 500 patients, but we will have checkpoints to see if we have an answer sooner than that," Dr. Ardiles said.

The treatment plan is based on the patient's response, but on average is expected to take about five days.

Dr. Ardiles says the study hopes to find this is a successful treatment for COVID-19.

In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Monitor your health daily

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Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

Right now there's one big difference between flu and coronavirus: A vaccine exists to help prevent the flu and it's not too late to get it. It won't protect you from catching the coronavirus, but may put you in a better position to fight it.

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.

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