You have no doubt been following the developments on COVID-19, and you may have some questions about what to do if you are experiencing symptoms of illness. We hope this information helps to clarify some questions you may have.
At this point in time, testing is not easily available to the community. Therefore, we cannot always test every person having respiratory symptoms for COVID-19. If you are experiencing any symptoms of infection, you must assume that the symptoms could be related to COVID-19. Symptoms can start from 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Body aches
- Nasal congestion
- Loss of sense of smell/taste
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Some patients experience more mild symptoms that can be treated/monitored at home. If you have an underlying chronic lung disease such as asthma, it is important to take your medications as directed by your doctor. You can contact your doctor to let them know you are sick, and decide if any other treatments are needed. At AACPC we would welcome you to make a telemedicine visit so your symptoms and concerns can be discussed via video chat from the safety of your home. It is best to stay out of the doctor’s office to avoid exposing other people to illness.
There may be instances where a higher level of evaluation and care is needed than what you can do at home. In these cases, we recommend that you go to the ER, or call 911 if you are unable to have somebody drive you (or if it is a more urgent emergency). You should alert the medical team as soon you come into contact with them that you are having respiratory symptoms so they can use the proper precautions. Symptoms for which you should seek medical attention include:
- Significant trouble breathing/worsening shortness of breath
- Bluish lips or face
- Coughing up blood
- Inability to keep liquids down/dehydration
- Chest pain or pressure
- Confusion, weakness, or decreased level of consciousness
- Vision changes (new blurry vision, losing part of vision, etc.)
- Any other new and concerning symptoms
There have been some reports of other less common symptoms that may be related to COVID-19 infection. If you or a family member experiences any of these symptoms, please call your primary care doctor to discuss further:
- New rash
- Swelling, discoloration, or ulceration of fingers or toes
- Sudden loss of sense of smell/taste
If you have symptoms of illness, you should only leave the home for emergencies. Let somebody else do the grocery shopping. Isolate yourself as much as possible from other household contacts and pets. Use a separate bathroom if possible. If you have to interact with anybody in your home, wear a mask. Try to get plenty of rest, but please try to change position often and avoid spending a lot of time lying flat on your back. Most patients with respiratory illnesses feel best when they change position often (every 30 min to 2 hours). Try lying on your sides, stomach, and sitting up or at a slight incline. This may help keep the air sacs in your lungs open. Monitor your symptoms (such as taking your temperature). Wash your hands often. Do not share dishes or utensils with other family members, and wash used dishes in the dishwasher, or thoroughly with soap and water. Clean all surfaces regularly. See this handout from the CDC, which outlines several of these points.
In terms of when it is considered safe to discontinue home isolation, the following guidelines are recommended by the CDC:
- No fever (Fever defined as temp ≥4 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least 72 hours without medication that could reduce fevers (such as Tylenol/acetaminophen or Motrin/ibuprofen)
- Other symptoms have improved (such as cough and shortness of breath)
- AND at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first started.
WE CAN’T SEE THEM, BUT THEY’RE OUT THERE…
Here is a video demonstrating how germs are spread. Gross-yes, but important to know about!