As the number of daily cases rises, you may feel a heightened sense of concern. Remember that this is completely normal. If you feel that you may have contracted the COVID-19 virus, it is important to recognise the signs early and take immediate actions.
Although the symptoms of COVID-19 are the same for each individual, there are some common signs that may indicate that you have been infected by the virus. On average, it will take a maximum of two weeks for the symptoms to show. In the first few days, people may experience mild symptoms: a fever, dry cough, fatigue, or occasional shortness of breath. As the days progress into the first week of infection, symptoms may become more severe, especially in patients who are older or have preexisting health conditions. These symptoms include pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome. If you are experiencing any of the severe symptoms, it is imperative to go to the hospital as soon as possible. If you have noticed that you are only experiencing the milder symptoms and they have not become more serious after two weeks, it is likely that you do not have COVID-19, but it is still advised to visit a doctor to clear the different illness you have been experiencing.
However, if you have only been experiencing the milder symptoms for a few days, it can be hard to tell whether it is just a cold or the COVID-19 virus. At this stage, it is important to take steps to prevent the infection of others, should you have COVID-19. These steps include…
- Unless it is to seek medical care (avoid public transportation and let the doctor know in advance that you are concerned you may have the COVID-19 virus)
- Stay in touch with your doctor and update him if your symptoms become more severe
If you live with others, separate yourself
- Stay in a specific, separate room
- Wear a cloth to cover your face
- After coughing for sneezing, throw away tissues
- Avoid sharing any personal household items
- Stay 6 feet away from others
Practice Good Hygiene
- Wash your hands immediately
- Clean and reduce contact with high-touch surfaces
Take medicine to counteract any early symptoms
- Sore Throats – Cough drops or syrups
- Fevers/Headaches – Tylenol or Advil
- Dry Cough – Mucinex DM or Robitussin DM
- Stuffy/runny nose – saline nasal spray, or oral antihistamines (e.g., Claritin or Zyrtec)
- Take this time to focus on self-care
- Get adequate rest and stay hydrated
- Indulge in your favorite pastimes
- If you are still worried, there are always options to get tested for the virus (it is a simple nasal or oral swab)
Center for Disease Control and Infection – What to do if you are sick
Houston Methodist Leading Medicine – What Should You Do If You Think You have Coronavirus?
Johns Hopkins University – Coronavirus (COVID-19): What Do I Do If I Feel Sick?
The Wall Street Journal – What We Know About Coronavirus Tests, Treatment and Vaccines
Virginia Department of Health – What to do if you have confirmed or suspected coronavirus disease (COVID-19)?