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    What To Do If You Get COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

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    What To Do If You Get COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

    Disclaimer: There is no known cure or vaccine for COVID-19. The information below is suggestions based on data from the CDC. Please call your doctor if you believe you've contracted coronavirus.

    I know most people don't want to hear this, but you're likely to get the coronavirus. That's according to Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard. He believes roughly half the global population will get COVID-19 within the next year.

    The United States Congress Physician estimates that anywhere from 70 to 150 million Americans will eventually be infected. Unfortunately, it seems like most people are still in denial.

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    This virus spreads very easily, it doesn't cause symptoms for 5 to 7 days (which means people are spreading it without knowing), and there is no treatment. [For more info, see the article, How Bad Will the Coronavirus Outbreak Get?]

    Fortunately, 80% of people who contract this virus have mild symptoms (particularly younger people). However, about 20% of people have severe symptoms and this article not for those people. This article is for people with mild symptoms, who should stay at home and isolate themselves.

    Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about what to do if you get COVID-19.

    What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?

    According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC):

    Mild Symptoms of COVID-19

    • Low-grade fever
    • Cough
    • Nasal congestion
    • Sore throat
    • Malaise or a general sense of not feeling well
    • Occasional nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

    Severe Symptoms of COVID-19

    • Shortness of breath
    • Bloody phlegm
    • Severe nausea and vomiting
    • Severe diarrhea
    • Affects on underlying chronic diseases affecting the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys

    What to Do If You Think You Have COVID-19

    It’s still hard to know how many people have contracted COVID-19 because large scale testing hasn’t been implemented. One consistent message related to the outbreak is that people should avoid going to hospital emergency rooms if they feel they are infected unless they are exhibiting severe symptoms.

    There are a couple of good reasons to stay home if the symptoms are mild.

    1. Hospital emergency rooms are intended for people with severe, medical emergencies in the category or heart attacks, stroke, or severe illness and injuries. If people fill emergency rooms with symptoms that initially appear as mild cold or flu symptoms, emergency rooms will quickly become overwhelmed.
    2. You could end up exposing yourself to the virus if you go to a hospital emergency room where others may be both infected and contagious. So if you don't have it going in, you might have it going out. Unless your symptoms are severe, call your doctor for the best advice on how to proceed.

    Preventing the Spread of COVID-19

    According to the CDC, there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person primarily between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

    The virus is known to spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. They can also reside on surfaces for days that an infected person has come in contact with.

    Even if you haven’t been specifically tested for COVID-19 but are showing symptoms, you should take certain precautions to avoid spreading the virus.

    • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds to prevent contamination of surfaces.
    • Stay home.
    • Avoid contact with others.
    • Wear a mask. (Infected people are the ones who should wear a mask.)
    • Cough into your sleeve, not your hands. Ideally, cough into a tissue and immediately discard it.
    • Sanitize any surfaces you touch.
    • Limit family contact to one caregiver.
    • Use a separate and dedicated bathroom if one is available.
    • Call ahead if you are traveling to the emergency room.

    Treating the Symptoms of COVID-19

    You should treat mild symptoms of COVID-19 like you would treat any cold or flu.

    • Fever
      • Take Tylenol (read label to see how often).
      • Stay hydrated.
    • Cough
      • Take over-the-counter cough medicine.
      • Hot tea with honey.
      • Keep the room humidified with a humidifier or steam.
    • Nasal congestion
      • Nasal spray.
      • Mucinex.
      • Broth soups or hot teas.
    • Sore throat
      • Gargle with warm saltwater.
      • Use Chloraseptic or other sore throat relief spray.
      • Licorice root tea (a traditional and ancient sore throat reliever).
    • Malaise or a general sense of not feeling well
      • Bed rest.
      • Sleep.
      • Chamomile tea.
    • Occasional nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
      • Emetrol to relieve nausea.
      • Pepto Bismol.
      • Stay hydrated with electrolyte infused drinks.

    According to the Mayo Clinic, the best general treatment for mild symptoms continues to be bed rest and hydration. Traditional treatments include vitamin and mineral supplements like Vitamin-C and Zinc in addition to herbal teas with honey which provides both physical relief and has a comforting factor.

    Home Sick With COVID-19

    Herbal teas often identified in traditional medicine include:

    • Peppermint Leaf (nausea)
    • Cardamom flowers and seeds (expectorant for dry cough)
    • Blackberry Leaf (antioxidant/immune system boost)
    • Lavender flowers and leaves (coughs and congestion)
    • Chamomile flowers (cough and sore throat)
    • Ginger tea (nausea and vomiting)
    • Willow bark (pain and fever)
    • Licorice root (sore throat)

    Treating Severe Symptoms of COVID-19

    If at all possible, anyone suffering from severe symptoms of COVID-19 should seek professional medical help. In an emergency, call 911 or proceed to the emergency room. Always have someone call ahead to the emergency room if you are arriving with suspected COVID-19 symptoms.

    Because many of the severe symptoms of COVID-19 are also indicative of other severe medical conditions, anyone suffering from them should be questioned and monitored for the possibility of a heart attack or other condition that results in any of these symptoms. If you suspect that is a possibility, call 911.

    In the event that a hospital or medical professional is not available, you need to do the best you can to treat the more serious symptoms and hope they are not symptomatic of something more life-threatening like a heart attack.

    Paramedics Helping Sick Person
    • Shortness of breath
      • Make sure the room has adequate ventilation.
      • Putting the head back to open the airway as much as possible is advised.
      • Attempt relaxed deep breathing as much as possible.
      • It’s sometimes easier to breathe while sitting forward in a relaxed position at or on a table.
      • Sleep in a reclined position.
    • Bloody phlegm
      • Make sure any phlegm is coughed into a tissue and immediately discarded.
      • Try a cough suppressant or hot tea or broth to calm the cough.
      • Drink plenty of fluids.
      • Take an OTC mucous treatment like Mucinex to calm the cough.
    • Severe nausea and vomiting
      • As much as possible, stay hydrated
      • OTC medicines like Emetrol can calm the stomach
      • Avoid solid foods
      • Delay oral medicines that might irritate the stomach
      • Deep breathing sometimes works
    • Severe diarrhea
      • Here again, stay hydrated
      • OTC medicines like Pepto Bismol may provide some relief
      • Consider the BRAT diet of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast
    • Affects on underlying chronic diseases affecting the heart, lungs, liver and kidney
      • Continue to take any prescribed medicines for those conditions
      • Seriously consider and determine how professional medical care can be provided in the event that a chronic condition worsens.

    Medicinal Items You Should Have on Hand

    In a time when even common things like hand sanitizers are in short supply, it may be prudent to act quickly to at least have some basic OTC remedies on hand. Consider the following:

    Prevention Supplies

    This starts to get into the list of items that are becoming scarce and hard to find. You can make your own hand sanitizers and disinfectants and you can even make your own soap, but tissues and paper towels aren’t easy to make, although paper napkins and other soft, paper products could work in a pinch.

    • Bleach and vinegar for disinfecting surfaces.
    • Spray disinfectants like Clorox Cleanup and Lysol.
    • Tissues.
    • Paper towels for easy disposal after wiping down surfaces.
    • Hand sanitizers.
    • Antiseptic wipes.
    • Hand soap.
    • Face masks if infected.
    • Vitamin and mineral supplements to boost the immune system.

    Access to Knowledge

    There are numerous and excellent resources on the Internet to guide and direct you while you engage in any level of home care related to COVID-19. If you are actively treating yourself or someone else for COVID-19 you should use these websites frequently for reference and advice:

    • The Mayo Clinic has created numerous pages dedicated to COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment.
    • WebMD has also dedicated numerous resources to COVID-19 diagnosis and treatments.
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the most credible source for information updated daily about COVID-19. They also offer insights and advice on symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
    • The World Health Organization (WHO) is also reporting daily updates on COVID-19 and advice for preventing and treating the disease.
    • Online medical care or virtual doctors may start trending soon. The AARP did an excellent examination of this approach and it may be worth considering especially if you are dealing with severe symptoms and can’t reach a medical professional or facility.

    Stay Home

    Whether it’s the flu or COVID-19, your best course of action when you’re sick is to stay home and take care of yourself. Indications are beginning to appear that COVID-19 may leave most people none the worse than a traditional bout with the flu.

    Until more information becomes available it’s probably best to play it safe and stay home until you’ve fully recovered.

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