For the great majority of us in the United States, struggles around the COVID-19 pandemic have only involved the psychological and economic toll of avoiding contamination. But what to do if symptoms of COVID-19 manifest? Dr. Kerri Masutto, head of Parsley Health’s task force on the topic, walked us through some basic knowledge should symptoms of COVID-19 arise, including how to safely manage self-care, when to seek testing, and when to seek medical treatment at the hospital.
While information around COVID-19 is evolving daily, Dr. Masutto is helping us to explore these basic preparedness plans. Explore our links to the CDC’s own guidance below for more as well..
If You Get Sick with COVID-19 Symptoms…
Classic symptoms of COVID-19 include: fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Loss of smell and diarrhea are also being reported as early symptoms.
If you get sick with COVID-19 symptoms stay at home and alert your primary care provider so they can assess whether you should seek testing, self-isolate or go to the hospital.
When symptoms are mild —meaning someone has a cough and perhaps a low-grade fever or mild shortness of breath, many doctors will recommend the person stay home, monitor their symptoms, rest, and support their immune system as it fights this viral illness.
Because there is no approved outpatient treatment at this time, self-isolation at home is the best way to reduce the spread of the virus.
However, for people with underlying conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, immunocompromised, cancer or advanced age, the approach is more cautious. These are considered high-risk groups and are more likely to be tested for COVID-19 earlier in symptom presentation.
Doctors recommend close monitoring for these groups and — regardless of test results — in-person evaluation if the person develops a fever over 102°F, shortness of breath, confusion, or difficulty waking up.
For more details on how to tell the difference between the cold, flu, or coronavirus, see here.
Safely Managing Self-Care For Mild Cases
There are three keys to safer self-care at home:
First | Closely monitor symptoms for improvement or worsening. Go to the hospital only after calling ahead for safe arrival instructions if symptoms become severe.
Second | Support the immune system, hydrate, eat healthy foods and rest so you can recover.
Third | Take steps to be safe and slow the spread to other family members and community members. Self-isolate, sanitize, protect.
This third step is most critical and complex. According to the CDC, patients with mild symptoms should self-isolate at home for the duration of their symptoms and for 72 hours (3 days) after the last symptom passes. While at home they should isolate themselves in a bedroom of the house, and if possible, use a bathroom that is not shared with others. No one should be allowed in their room or bathroom. Commonly used surfaces should be sanitized after patient’s use. If available, the person showing symptoms should wear a face mask to reduce the spread of the virus. Those caring for them should wear a face mask and gloves.
Because pets often go from family member to family member, if living with other people, a person showing symptoms should also isolate themselves from their family pets. While pets have not been shown to contract/transmit the virus, they should be treated as a surface that could potentially spread the virus. Do not apply any disinfectant to animals. A warm bath for pets is sufficient, if animals need to be cleaned.
During the time of illness, no outside visitors should be allowed in the home, deliveries should be left at the doorstep and retrieved only after the deliverer has left. On top of all this: all those good hygiene tips we learned earlier in the pandemic apply. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and particularly in this situation, maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others for the duration of the illness.
Further guidance can be explore here at through the CDC.
When To Seek Testing
For the time being Coronavirus testing must be prioritized for those at highest risk of developing a severe case. Appropriate social distancing, isolation of the sick, and proper hygiene are central to slowing the spread of coronavirus across the country.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to test is best made with the advice of your healthcare provider. According to the CDC, if you’ve developed symptoms such as fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath, and you are within the highest risk groups identified as priority 1 and priority 2 by the CDC then you should get tested for coronavirus. Most people will fall into the priority 3 category, and will only be tested when more widespread testing is available. CDC recommendations are evolving regularly and we recommend you check the latest here.
If you are over 60 years old or have an underlying health condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease, cancer, or are immunocompromised, you should contact your doctor if you or anyone in your direct circle of contacts develop symptoms, even if they are mild. Your doctor can help you in differentiating symptoms of COVID-19 from another illness and will determine the appropriate next steps
When To Seek Medical Treatment
People with underlying conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, immunocompromised, cancer or advanced age, are at higher risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19. Doctors recommend close monitoring for these groups and — regardless of test results or underlying conditions — people should seek medical evaluation as soon as they develop a fever over 102°F, shortness of breath, confusion, or difficulty arousing. Because we’re trying to reduce the spread of the virus, if you or someone you know develops these symptoms, call your local emergency room and ask for safe arrival instructions for someone showing severe symptoms of COVID-19.
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.