What To Do If You Contract the Coronavirus
As reported this weekend in the Sun Sentinel:
“Hundreds of Floridians have been admitted to hospitals for the new coronavirus in recent days, but a shortage of beds means the state’s medical system could quickly be overwhelmed if cases continue to increase in rates seen over the past month.”
As our family practice doctors at Cohen Medical Associates noted previously, many of those who contract COVID-19 can recover at home without medical intervention. But when should you seek emergency care, and what should you do if you contract the virus? Here’s a guide.
Know all the signs and symptoms
First, be sure you know the most common major symptoms:
- shortness of breath
In addition, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), other symptoms can include tiredness, aches and pains, and sore throat. A few people also report diarrhea, nausea, or a runny nose.
Chinese researchers report that for nearly a quarter of those who contract the illness, instead of respiratory symptoms, their early symptoms will primarily comprise gastrointestinal symptoms (loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain), which in some cases can be their only indication of illness.
In the study, published earlier this month in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, “patients with digestive symptoms have a worse clinical outcome and a higher risk of mortality compared to those without digestive symptoms,” Dr. Brennan M.R. Spiegel, co-editor-in-chief of the journal, wrote in a press release.
Finally, the American Academy of Otolaryngology last week announced “rapidly accumulating” anecdotal evidence that a sudden loss of taste or smell can also be an early warning sign. The WHO also reported seeing “quite a few reports” of this symptom and is investigating whether it should officially be added to the list of symptoms.
If you think you have COVID-19
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if you either have COVID-19 or think you might have it, follow these steps:
- Stay home except to get medical care
Most people with the illness have mild symptoms and are able to recover at home without medical intervention. Stay in touch with us, but do not come to our office or go to the emergency room or walk-in clinics, where you could infect others. Also avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
- Separate yourself from other people in your home (known as “home isolation”)
Stay in a specific “sick room” and use a separate bathroom, if possible. Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and dispose of used tissues in a lined trash can, then immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.
- To help your recovery
- get plenty of rest
- stay hydrated
- ask us about pain and fever medication
- keep track of your symptoms, including fever
- Know the emergency warning signs for COVID-19
If you develop the following symptoms, call 911 immediately:
- trouble breathing
- persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- new confusion or inability to arouse
- bluish lips or face
This list is not all-inclusive, so consult us for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
Caring for someone in your home
If someone in your home has COVID-19:
- wear a facemask when in the same room with them, and restrict visitors
- clean all high-touch surfaces in the sick room and the person’s bathroom as needed, using household cleaning sprays or wipes according to the label’s instructions
- wear a mask and wait as long as possible to clean after the sick person has used the bathroom
- clean all high-touch surfaces in common areas daily, including phones, remote controls, counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables
- when doing laundry, be sure not to shake out items before putting them into the wash, which may disperse viral particles into the surrounding environment
After you recover
Once you’re feeling better, you can discontinue home isolation under the following conditions:
- you have had no fever for at least 72 hours (three full days) without using medicine that reduces fevers, AND
- other symptoms have improved, AND
- at least seven days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
If you are receiving testing, you can leave home after the first two conditions have been met AND you have received two negative tests in a row, 24 hours apart.
Please, however, do not make this decision without consulting a doctor first.