The Kingsley Clinic

What to do if you get COVID-19

Imagine this: you wake up with a mild sore throat one day. You try to ignore it at first, but by the afternoon you start feeling a little feverish. Then your body starts aching all over and you develop a dry cough. Naturally, you are afraid of having COVID-19. Your family has taken all the recommended precautions of social distancing, working from home, frequent hand washing, and limiting exposure to the public, but it looks like the novel coronavirus may have still made its way inside your home. 

Experiencing coronavirus symptoms can be a very scary, anxiety-inducing scenario for you and your loved ones. However, there are precautions you can take to prevent infection, and there are actions you need to take if you contract COVID-19.

Talk to a physician

If you suspect you have coronavirus, you should first talk to your physician so that they can assess your risk and severity of illness. If you can’t leave your home to visit your doctor in person, and urgent care clinics and hospitals nearby are overwhelmed, what can you do? 

Telemedicine can quickly connect you with a provider who can assess your condition, provide you guidance on what to do next, and answer your questions to relieve your anxiety. Plus, you don’t have to leave the safety of your home and risk spreading the virus. If you’re concerned that you may have contracted COVID-19, schedule a telemedicine visit and speak to a medical professional as soon as you can. 

Treat your symptoms at home

Take it from people who have had coronavirus: the fevers and extreme fatigue can be quite debilitating and last for a long time. Symptoms can also vary between patients; you may get the chills, but nothing more than a mild fever. You may lose your sense of taste and smell, or you might experience headaches and stomach issues.

Make sure that you have plenty of over-the-counter medications on hand to treat your symptoms. These medications include Tylenol (acetaminophen) for fever control or pain relief, Mucinex (guaifenesin) to loosen clogged sinuses and make coughing easier, and Robitussin (dextromethorphan) to suppress your cough.

If you have any chronic respiratory conditions like asthma or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) then it is very important that you have enough inhalers and nebulization medications so that you do not run out during the course of your illness. These symptom control medications can be the difference between you being able to manage your illness at home versus ending up in the hospital. 

Know when to go to the emergency room

After managing your symptoms at home based on the recommendations from your telemedicine provider, it is possible that your illness worsens despite your best efforts.

If you experience any of these symptoms, go to the hospital immediately for treatment:

  • Persistent high-grade fever (greater than103 F) that does not come down with anti-fever medications, such as Tylenol
  • Severe shortness of breath or wheezing that is interfering with your day-to-day activities. Note: if you notice that you’re using your neck or stomach muscles to help you breathe, call 911 right away 
  • Bluish lips or face, as this could be a sign of low oxygen in your body 
  • Persistent pain or pressure in your chest, as this could be a sign of an impending heart attack 
  • New confusion or excessive sleepiness/ fatigue 
  • Inability to remain hydrated or take in enough nutrition

Note: Call 911 if you have a medical emergency. Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives to prevent the spread of the disease. 

Protect others in your home

If you have COVID-19 or you suspect you have it, separate yourself from other people and pets while you recover at home. Stay in a specific room and use a separate bathroom, if possible. Wear a cloth face mask over your nose and mouth if you have to be around others, and cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. 

Disinfect surfaces regularly with sanitizing wipes, especially high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, counters, tabletops, and so on. Wash your clothing or linens separately. Don’t share dishes, cups, or eating utensils with others in your home. All of these measures work towards preventing cross-contamination in the house.

How long should you self-quarantine inside your house? The CDC has the following suggestions.

If you are not tested for COVID-19, you can stop home isolation after these three things have happened:

  • You have not had fever for at least 72 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine
  • Other symptoms have improved, such as coughing or shortness of breath
  • At least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared

If you are tested for COVID-19, you can stop home isolation after these three things have happened:

  • You no longer have a fever without the use of fever-reducing medicine
  • Other symptoms have improved, such as coughing or shortness of breath
  • You received two negative tests in a row, 24 hours apart

No matter what, you should follow your telemedicine provider’s advice and the guidance of your local health department.

The bottom line

Remember that most people who contract the coronavirus experience mild illness and are able to recover at home. The experience can be frightening, but you can get better. If you suspect you’re infected, speak to a healthcare provider immediately, keep track of your symptoms, and take care of yourself.

If you need to talk to a telemedicine provider right away, don’t hesitate to contact The Kingsley Clinic.

Dr. Danial Soleja is Chief Medical Officer of The Kingsley Clinic, an online clinic providing telemedicine services using The Lilly Project’s AI technology software.

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