What should I do if I have 1 or more COVID-19 symptoms?

In a Nutshell

  • Mild cases of COVId-19 can be managed at home
  • Monitor your symptoms and speak to your doctor if you have developed warning signs
  • Practice self-isolation and avoid going outdoors without protective gear to limit the spread

Protect yourself, protect others

COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a stand-still. With millions of cases and hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide, there is still no treatment or cure for this virus. Most cases of COVID-19 infection are mild and can be managed at home with over the counter management. While investigators are unveiling this mysterious virus, it is advised to practice social distancing to prevent the spread of virus.

What should I do if I have COVID-19 symptoms?

The symptoms of COVID-19 infection are generally mild in young, healthy adults and can be managed at home. It is highly recommended to avoid visiting the hospital or ER if you have mild infection. Healthcare providers recommend symptomatic treatment for the management of mild COVID-19 symptoms with over the counter treatment options like:

  • Acetaminophen or Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for the management of pain, fever, and aches
  • Increasing fluid intake to minimize the risk of dehydration

Besides managing these symptoms, it is important to monitor your symptoms and watch for serious complications or adverse symptoms. Speak to your healthcare provider if you have started experiencing the warning signs of severe illness such as:

  • Troubled or labored breathing
  • Inability to stay awake or altered level of consciousness
  • Bluish discoloration of lips or face suggestive of poor tissue oxygenation or respiratory depression
  • Feeling of persistent pressure or pain in the chest
  • Disorientation or confusion

Depending upon the severity of illness, your doctor may advice appropriate treatment option that may range from fluid replacement to supplemental oxygen or even ventilator.

What should I do if I feel sick?

If you have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 or if you are experiencing symptoms, self-isolate yourself at home. Avoid getting in any type of contact with friends, loved ones or strangers. In addition:

  • Make sure to wear a mask so you do not get others infected
  • Avoid going outdoors unless you are going to see your doctor
  • Avoid close confined spaces, public transportation, and crowds
  • Cover your sneeze and cough with a tissue paper and discard used tissue papers/ napkins and masks carefully
  • Clean and disinfect your surrounding on frequent basis and make sure to give special attention to high-traffic areas such as kitchen counters, doorknobs, tablets, fixtures, sockets etc.

Nuances/ Safety

Individuals with following risk factors should consult with their healthcare professionals if they have developed signs and symptoms of COVID-19 infection. This is because, following risk factors are associated with severe disease or higher risk of complications:

  • Elderly or age over 60 years
  • History of immunosuppression due to chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunosuppressive therapy, cancer therapy etc.
  • History of organ transplant
  • People who are HIV positive or have other diseases that affects immune status (such as Hepatitis B, C), chronic diabetes, liver, or kidney failure

Strength of Evidence: B
The recommendations made in this article are based of small-scale studies and best practices as suggested by CDC, WHO and FDA

Our Ruling

COVID-19 infection symptoms vary in intensity and severity among different individuals. People who have mild symptoms should ideally manage their illness at home. Individuals who have certain risk factors or those who have developed warning signs should seek the advice of their primary care provider prior to visiting an ER to see if they require hospitalization or not.

Our Sources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html
  2. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-what-if-i-feel-sick
  3. https://news.psu.edu/story/613394/2020/03/30/campus-life/coronavirus-what-should-i-do-if-i-feel-sick
  4. https://scdhec.gov/infectious-diseases/viruses/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/what-do-if-you-feel-sick-covid-19
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How we grade evidence?

Learn more about it here.