With reports about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) dominating the news cycle, you may be worried about getting sick. Fortunately, you can take steps to protect yourself to reduce your risk of illness. However, it’s important to take your symptoms seriously if you think you might be sick. If you’re worried you have COVID-19, stay home and contact your doctor virtually to find out if you need testing and treatment.
1. Check for respiratory symptoms such as a cough. Since COVID-19 is a respiratory infection, a cough, with or without mucus, is a common symptom. However, a cough could also be a symptom of allergies or a different respiratory infection, so try not to worry. Call your doctor if you think your cough might be caused by COVID-19.
- Consider if you’ve been around someone who was sick. If so, you’re more likely to have contracted what they had. However, do your best to stay away from sick people.
- If you’re coughing, keep your distance from people who have decreased immune systems or have high risks for complications, such as those over 65-years-old, newborns, children, pregnant women, and those who are on immunosuppressants.
2. Take your temperature to see if you have a fever. Since fever is a common symptom of COVID-19, always check your temperature if you’re worried you contracted the virus. A fever over 100.4 °F (38.0 °C) could be a sign that you have COVID-19 or another infection. If you have a fever, call your doctor to discuss your symptoms.
- If you have a fever, you’re likely contagious, so avoid contact with other people.
3. Get medical care if you have breathing problems or shortness of breath. COVID-19 can cause trouble breathing, which is always a serious symptom. Contact your doctor immediately or get emergency medical care if you’re having difficulty breathing. You may have a serious infection, such as COVID-19.
- You may need additional treatments for breathing problems, so always consult your doctor for shortness of breath.
4. Recognize that a sore throat and runny nose may indicate a different infection. While COVID-19 is a respiratory infection, it doesn’t usually cause a sore throat or runny nose. Its most common symptoms are cough, fever, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms of a respiratory infection likely indicate that you have another illness, like the common cold or the flu. Call your doctor to be sure.
- It’s understandable that you’d be nervous about COVID-19 if you’re feeling sick. However, you probably don’t need to worry if you’re having symptoms other than fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
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Getting an Official Diagnosis
1. Call your doctor if you suspect you have COVID-19. Tell your doctor that you’re having symptoms and ask if you need to come in for an exam. Your doctor may recommend you stay home and rest. However, they could ask you to come in for lab testing to confirm a possible COVID-19 infection. Follow your doctor’s instructions so you can recover and are less likely to spread the infection.
- Keep in mind that there’s no medication for COVID-19, so your doctor can’t prescribe you a treatment.
Tip: Tell your doctor if you’ve recently traveled or come into contact with someone who is sick. This can help them determine if your symptoms may be caused by COVID-19.
2. Undergo a lab test for COVID-19 if your doctor recommends it. Your doctor may do a nasal swab of your mucus or a blood test to check for an infection. This will help them rule out other infections and possibly confirm COVID-19. Allow the doctor to take a nasal swab or blood draw so they can make a proper diagnosis.
- Getting a nasal swab or blood draw shouldn’t hurt, but you may experience some discomfort.
Did You Know? Your doctor will typically isolate you in a room and immediately notify the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) while they test and track your illness. If they suspect you have COVID-19, your doctor will send your labs to the CDC if you’re in the United States or your nation’s public health organization if you’re outside the United States.
3. Get emergency medical treatment if you have difficulty breathing. A serious COVID-19 infection can cause complications such as pneumonia. If you’re having trouble breathing, go to your doctor, an urgent care center, or an emergency room immediately. If you’re alone, call for help so you arrive safely.
- Breathing problems could be a sign that you’re having complications, and your doctor can help you get the help you need to recover.
Stay home so you won’t risk infecting others. If you have respiratory symptoms, you may be contagious, so don’t leave your home while you’re feeling ill. Make yourself comfortable at home while you recover from your illness. Additionally, tell people that you’re sick so they won’t visit.
- If you go to the doctor, wear a face mask to prevent spreading the virus.
- Check with your doctor to find out when it’s safe for you to return to your normal routine. You may be contagious for up to 14 days.
2. Rest so your body can recover. The best thing you can do for yourself is to rest and relax while your body fights the infection. Lie down on your bed or your couch with your upper body propped up on pillows. Additionally, keep a blanket with you in case you get cold.
- Raising your upper body will help you avoid coughing fits. If you don’t have enough pillows, use folded blankets or towels to prop yourself up.
3. Take over-the-counter pain and fever reducers. COVID-19 often causes body aches and fever. Fortunately, an over-the-counter medicine like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), or acetaminophen (Tylenol) will help. Check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Then, take your medication as directed on the label.
- Do not give aspirin to children or teens under 18 since it can cause a potentially fatal condition called Reye’s Syndrome.
- Don’t take more medication than the label says is safe, even if you’re not feeling better.
4. Use a humidifier to soothe your airways and thin out mucus. You’ll likely have mucus drainage, and a humidifier can help. The mist from the humidifier will moisten your throat and airways, which can help thin out your mucus.
- Follow the directions on your humidifier to use it safely.
- Wash your humidifier thoroughly with soap and water between uses so you don’t accidentally get mildew in it.
5. Consume lots of fluids to help your body heal. Fluids help your body fight off the infection and thin out your mucus. Drink water, hot water, or tea to help keep you hydrated. Additionally, eat broth-based soups to increase your fluid intake.
- Warm fluids are your best bet and may also help soothe your sore throat. Try hot water or tea with a squeeze of lemon and a spoonful of honey.
information courtesy: WikiHow.com