It's thought that many people can have COVID-19 without ever showing symptoms, which is partly why social distancing and sheltering-in-place measures are important to reducing transmission. And while about 85% of COVID-19 cases are mild, some people can experience dangerous symptoms like difficulty breathing, a blueish face, persistent chest pain, or confusion. In these cases, call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately, giving them a heads up that you're a potential COVID-19 patient.
If, however, you're experiencing mild symptoms of COVID-19, you can recuperate at home.
"Monitor your symptoms, because in some people (particularly those with underlying conditions) it can turn into an emergency," says Rena Daiza, M.D., a family medicine physician with Henry Ford Health.
While recovering at home, it's also important to self-isolate so you don't transmit the virus to others. This isn't difficult if you live alone, but if you live in close quarters with others, it can be tricky.
Here, Dr. Daiza shares how to reduce the chance that others in your household will contract the illness.
- If possible, have a designated sick room (and bathroom if you can) and try not to leave that area. Have someone in your household bring meals and take away plates so you don't have to eat in the kitchen. The caretaker should wear gloves and wash hands after touching dishware.
- Wear a cloth face covering that fits snugly to the bridge of your nose and extends underneath your chin. (Should others be in the same room as you, they should wear a cloth face covering as well.)
- Separate your laundry from others' in the household, and do laundry often.
- Avoid sharing personal household items like towels, cups, kitchen utensils and dishware.
- Throw away tissues in a separate lined trash bin.
- Wipe down communal, high-touch areas often like countertops, doorknobs, and faucet handles using at least 60% alcohol.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. (This goes for everyone in the household.)
- Have groceries and medicine delivered if possible, so you and your caregiver don't have to leave the house and risk transmitting germs to others.
When you're symptom free for 72 hours without fever-reducing medication, you can end self-isolation within your household, says Dr. Daiza. "And while these cautionary measures aren't foolproof, they're important to lessen the likelihood that others in your household will contract the virus."
If you're experiencing symptoms and are concerned about possibly having COVID-19, use this online screening tool to help you learn more about your risk and get recommended next steps.
For up-to-date information about Henry Ford Health System's response to the coronavirus, visit henryford.com/coronavirus.
Dr. Rena Daiza is a family medicine doctor seeing patients at Henry Ford Medical Center in Bloomfield Township.