If You Have COVID-19 Symptoms, This Is How You Can Take Care of Yourself at Home

Washing your hands, practicing social distancing, avoiding touching your face, and covering your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze have all been recommended by medical experts to help stop and prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Medical experts have also advised refraining from seeking in-person medical attention from primary care physicians and medical professionals at emergency rooms and hospitals to prevent the spread of the virus and to protect staff and patients. If you believe that you are exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus, or it's been confirmed that you do have the virus, you may be wondering how to best care for yourself at home. We spoke to an infectious disease doctor who explains how best to treat COVID-19 on your own.

How to Treat COVID-19 at Home
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How to Treat COVID-19 at Home

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if you think you have or it's been confirmed that you have COVID-19, you should stay home from work, school, and other public places. In the event that you have to go out, you should avoid using public transportation and car services. The CDC also advises monitoring your symptoms along with staying hydrated and rested.

"If you're someone who has general malaise, fatigue, and you start having the cough and the fever, what you want to have on hand is a way that you keep hydrated," Laila Woc-Colburn, MD, FACP, FIDSA, associate professor and medical director of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine, told POPSUGAR. Dr. Woc-Colburn suggests having liquids, such as water, available because when you have a fever, "you heat up and you can get dehydrated very easily." She recommends consuming two liters of water daily if you have a fever but only if you don't have preexisting conditions like heart problems. Electrolytes are another way to help you stay hydrated but Dr. Woc-Colburn cautions "not to overdo it."

Additionally, Dr. Woc-Colburn advises having an acetaminophen on hand, such as Tylenol, and taking no more than 2,000 milligrams per day to help break the fever. If you have preexisting medical conditions or chronic illnesses, Dr. Woc-Colburn advises having at least two to three months of a medicine supply at home.

How to Prevent Spreading COVID-19 to Your Household
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How to Prevent Spreading COVID-19 to Your Household

To prevent spreading the coronavirus to others in your household, "You want to make sure that you have your own room and if you can, you want to have your own bathroom," Dr. Woc-Colburn said. The reason you want to quarantine in your own room is because whenever you cough or sneeze, droplets of saliva exit your mouth and nose and can land and live on various surfaces for an extended period of time.

Dr. Woc-Colburn also advises decontaminating the surfaces of common areas like the kitchen. If you don't have access to disinfecting products, cleaning with soap and water is the next best option, she said. If you happen to share a bathroom, make sure that you aren't using the bathroom at the same time as someone else, and once you're done in the bathroom, be sure to sanitize it, such as with disinfecting wipes or spray.

When to Seek Medical Attention For COVID-19
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When to Seek Medical Attention For COVID-19

The CDC recommends seeking medical attention immediately if you have trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or the inability to arouse, or if you notice your lips or face have become blueish. Dr. Woc-Colburn advises seeking medical attention if you have diabetes, kidney issues, cardiac issues, you're immunosuppressed, or you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (an inflammatory lung disease).

If you're diabetic and your blood sugar levels are rising, it's becoming harder for you to breathe, your fever lasts longer than five days, and your cough is not improving, consult a physician via the phone, teladoc services, or go to an emergency room, according to Dr. Woc-Colburn. Because every state may have different protocols, we recommend familiarizing yourself with your local government's guidelines and speaking to a physician to find out how they would like you to proceed with getting medical attention.

If you're a generally healthy person who has a fever and feels fatigued but you aren't experiencing a shortness of breath, Dr. Woc-Colburn said you can stay home and "ride it out." Be sure to pay attention to how you are progressing over the days and if you feel like you're not improving, consult a doctor. Generally speaking, Dr. Woc-Colburn said most people will take about a week to recover, but because the research is still in an infancy phase, the recovery time may vary person to person.

POPSUGAR aims to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since publication. For the latest information on COVID-19, please check out resources from the WHO, CDC, and local public health departments.