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Think You Have the Coronavirus? Here’s What to Do Next 1
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Think You Have the Coronavirus? Here’s What to Do Next Symptoms and Healings
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Step one: Gauge how sick you are
The first thing you’ll want to do is ask yourself why you think you may have COVID-19, says Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and a professor in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
“What is it about your circumstances? Have you just come from abroad or have you had contact with someone internationally, particularly from a country where there is a lot of this virus?” Schaffner said.
One concern is if you’re older or have an underlying illness, such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes, and are therefore at risk for a more severe illness.
That doesn’t mean you have a higher chance of having COVID-19, Schaffner noted, but it’s a concern for any illness.
If you just have a cough or mild symptoms and have had no contact with anyone who’s sick, your mind doesn’t need to immediately jump to coronavirus.


Step two: Call your doctor
If you have milder symptoms, give your primary care physician a call first for advice. Clue them into your symptoms, underlying health issues, and let them know why you suspect you have COVID-19.

“If you’re not that sick, call your primary care doctor; they can assess whether you’ve had significant exposures and whether you’re sick enough to come to the office,” Dr. Sheldon Campbell, PhD, a Yale Medicine pathologist in the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, told Healthline.

Hospitals are increasingly turning to telemedicine to minimize contact with patients, so they may first evaluate your symptoms via a phone call, video chat, or live messaging tool to get a sense of how sick you are.

Schaffner says there’s a definite role for telemedicine in the networks in which it’s been established.

If your healthcare provider isn’t comfortable with evaluating you or if you don’t have a doctor, contact your local board of health.

They can refer you to a nearby healthcare center where you can get evaluated and treated.

If your symptoms are more severe, give the emergency room a call and head there.

Don’t just show up to the waiting room without giving your provider a heads up first.
“You don’t want to expose everybody else in the waiting room, whether you have influenza or coronavirus infection or some other respiratory virus,” Schaffner said.



Step three: Testing
Your physician will work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state laboratories to determine if you need testingTrusted Source.

It’s important to understand that testing is still limited — it takes time to develop, manufacture, and implement testing, Campbell said.

At this point, laboratory tests — which are mainly available in state health departments — should be reserved for those who have a severe illness and patients who’ve been linked with others who have COVID-19.

“They don’t want the ‘worried well’ to submit so many specimens that the people who really do need testing, who have these more specific indications, get lost in the crowd,” Schaffner said.

In the next week or two, state health departments will have access to more public tests — they’ll run them and evaluate them and begin testing.

We’ll also see more private tests designed and created by individual medical centers and commercial laboratories become readily available.

Many are already being reviewed by the FDA.

Expect other individual labs to follow suit.

Testing, while important for following the spread of disease, isn’t critical.
“If you’re sick, you’re still sick whether you have this coronavirus or influenza or any of a dozen other respiratory viruses,” Campbell said. “It’s not currently treatable.”



Step four: Stay healthy at home
Most patients with milder COVID-19 symptoms will be asked to isolate themselves at home, according to the CDCTrusted Source.

The most important thing is to keep a distance from others in your home. Wear a face mask only if you’re already sick, as this will help protect others from the infection.

Second, is to get plenty of rest and keep yourself well hydrated.

“That’s very important — that tends to help you prevent pneumonia,” Schaffner said.

A lot of people with milder illnesses end up in the ER because they’re dehydrated, Campbell added.

Fever reducers and pain medications, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, along with cough and cold medications can help alleviate symptoms.

Pay attention to your symptoms. If your symptoms worsen, call your doctor as they may want to reevaluate you.
“If you think you’re getting worse, certainly don’t tough it out at home,” Schaffner said. “That’s the time to call that healthcare provider again.”