5 Steps to take if you have COVID-19 symptoms
During a time with so many unknowns, knowing what to do if you think you have COVID-19 can be challenging. If you’re experiencing symptoms – such as trouble breathing, cough, fever or chills, sore throat, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, loss of taste or diarrhea – you should take the following steps.
1. Call your doctor.
Your primary care physician is the first person you should contact if you think you have COVID-19. Of course, if you are in a true emergency, always call 911 first and request help. But in non-emergency cases, your regular doctor can screen you for the virus.
Screenings can typically be done via telehealth. So, ask your doctor for a phone or video visit. He or she will ask you questions about potential exposure, your symptoms and their severity. Your answers will help your doctor determine whether you should get tested.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina offers a list of testing sites across the state.
Some people have an increased risk of becoming seriously ill and experiencing complications with COVID-19. The older you are, the greater that risk is. People with certain medical conditions are also at a higher risk. These include:
- Serious heart conditions
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Pulmonary issues
- High blood pressure
- Neurological conditions
- Sickle cell disease,
- And others.
People who are immunocompromised, obese or pregnant are also in greater danger for complications. If you have any of these increased risk factors, contact your health care provider as soon as COVID-19 symptoms arise.
2. Isolate at home.
If you are sick, think you may be infected, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or are asymptomatic but have tested positive, isolating at home is the best way to avoid spreading the virus.
To quarantine at home, create a designated room and bathroom that only you will use, if possible. Avoid contact with other household members and pets, keeping at least six feet distance from them. Don’t share personal items (such as cups and towels). Wear a face covering over your mouth and nose. During isolation, the only time you should leave your home is for medical help.
3. Monitor your symptoms.
It’s important to keep track of your illness. Being able to answer questions about your symptoms, their severity and the timeline of your illness will help your doctor determine the best course of action.
Most cases of COVID-19 are mild, and recovery can be done at home. However, if your symptoms continue to worsen and you have emergency warning signs such as trouble breathing, confusion, chest pain or pressure, a bluish hue in your face or lips, or are struggling to wake up or stay awake, you should seek immediate emergency medical care.
Be sure to call ahead and let your emergency facility know you’re coming. Let them know that you have – or suspect you have – COVID-19.
4. Take care of yourself.
As with any virus, the best thing to do is get plenty of rest, drink lots of water and take over-the-counter medications to make you feel better. These steps are the most effective way for your body to fight the virus and for you to recover as quickly as possible.
If you must leave your house to get medical attention, try to minimize your contact with others as much as possible. Always wear a face covering. Maintain a distance of at least six feet between yourself and others. Avoid public transportation and large groups. It’s also very important to wash your hands well and often. Taking good care of yourself is the best way to recover and protect others from getting sick.
If you’re not sick but are taking care of someone with COVID-19, be sure to wear a face covering (and face guard over your eyes, if possible). Avoid direct contact and keep as much physical distance as possible from the person who is sick. Be sure to line waste baskets with trash bags and wear disposable gloves when cleaning or handling trash. As a caregiver for someone with COVID-19, you too should quarantine for a full two weeks after your last exposure to the virus.
5. Clean and disinfect regularly.
While COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through droplets and particulates in the air, it may also be spread through surfaces. That’s why it is especially important to clean any areas where a sick person has been.
What surfaces should be disinfected?
Even if you only think you have COVID-19, it’s important to clean high-touch areas frequently. Pay special attention to door knobs, handrails, cell phones, and countertops. Bathroom surfaces should be cleaned after each time the sick person uses the restroom, particularly if it is a shared bathroom.
What are some alternatives to disinfectants?
Disinfecting sprays and wipes have been hard to come by. If you haven’t been able to purchase your regular cleaning products, there are some simple and inexpensive alternatives that work just as well. Rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or a diluted bleach solution are all effective for disinfecting and sanitizing.
How long this pandemic lasts and how severe it will be all depend on how well people care for themselves and others. By following these steps, you’ll be able to reduce your likelihood of spreading COVID-19 to others, which can help save lives and control the virus.
For more information and updates about COVID-19 from Blue Cross NC, visit our resources page.
All announced COVID-19 measures apply to Blue Cross NC’s fully insured, Medicare Advantage and Federal Employee Program members. Drug coverage and pharmacy changes apply to Blue Cross NC’s Medicare Part D members. Self-funded employer groups have the option to include the waiver of costs and prior approval for testing in their employees’ plans.
BLUE CROSS®, BLUE SHIELD®, the Cross and Shield symbols and service marks are marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. All other marks and trade names are the property of their respective owners. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. U35799, 4/20