When To Seek Medical Help If You Think You Have Coronavirus

April 15, 2020

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With the novel coronavirus spreading rapidly in the U.S., it’s understandable that people who develop a cough or fever might wonder if they have COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. The result is that minor respiratory symptoms that otherwise people would dismiss are causing a lot of anxiety. In addition, testing for the virus is still not widely available, making it difficult for people to know for certain when they are infected. But some facts are clear: COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness, with common symptoms of fever, dry cough, and, sometimes, shortness of breath. When to pursue testing or get professional medical care can be more complicated, and depends on whether you’re likely to have been exposed, the severity of your symptoms, and your age and underlying health. Here is when to reach out for medical care. If you are 65 or younger, in good health, have no symptoms and don't think you've been exposed, you are at low risk and don't need to get tested. However continue to practice basic infection prevention such as washing your hands frequently for 20 second, practicing physical distancing and staying at home. If you've come in contact with someone with COVID-19 but have no symptoms, you should monitor your health carefully, and try to avoid public settings—if you can work from home, for instance, do so. It’s especially important to stay alert for symptoms if you are older than 65, are immunocompromised, or have an underlying medical condition such as asthma. You should practice the same protocols even if you have mild to moderate symptoms but are at low risk and are unsure whether you’ve been exposed. Call your doctor if symptoms worsen. In fact the only people who should get a COVID-19 test, for now, are if you have mild to moderate symptoms and are at high risk and if you mild to moderate symptoms and know you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. If you have a high fever, a persistent cough that continues to worsen, or shortness of breath that makes it hard to talk, contact a doctor immediately or call 911, no matter what your age or risk level.

SOURCE: Consumer Reports

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