Ever since early 2020, the world has been concerned about COVID-19. As science continues to catch up to the pandemic, important recommendations are coming out to better control the virus.
These recommendations boil down to five things to remember:
Or simply, the PITTS. Below are key things to remember about each recommendation.
Preventing COVID-19 is ultimately the best way to protect yourself from the disease, and doctors agree the COVID-19 vaccine is the best prevention method. It is also the best way to prevent hospitalization or worse due to COVID-19.
Wearing a mask and social distancing also are effective ways to prevent COVID-19. These options are strongly recommended when in public settings regardless of whether you have been vaccinated or not.
“People may not know they have COVID-19 for several days or may be completely asymptomatic, but yet they can spread it to others during this time. This is why you should make sure you are doing everything you can to prevent it from spreading. The best way to do that is by receiving a vaccination and maintaining that vaccination with boosters as recommended,” said Dr. Kori Krueger, a Med-Peds primary care provider with Marshfield Clinic Health System.
Prevention doesn’t just end there. Getting proper sleep, avoiding smoking and eating a well-balanced diet are just a few things you can do to ensure your immune system is in tip-top shape to fight off a COVID-19 infection.
Bottom line – if you think you could have COVID-19, you should isolate from others.
This includes if:
- You were close to someone with COVID-19;
- You were in the same room as someone with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes;
- You were told by a public health professional that you may have been exposed; or
- You have symptoms of COVID-19.
You can resume your daily activities only after you test negative for COVID-19.
If you test positive, you should remain in isolation until your doctor says you can safely return to your daily activities. While in isolation, you should not see anyone outside of your household.
“Even within your household, you should try to isolate as much as possible within reason,” Dr. Krueger said. “This can include not sharing a bedroom, using a spare bathroom and wearing masks in the home when close to family members.”
If you think you have COVID-19, you need to get tested.
You can be tested right away if you have COVID-19 symptoms, including mild symptoms. If you have symptoms, Dr. Krueger recommends PCR tests because they are more reliable.
“At-home antigen tests are great for specific situations, including randomly testing people without symptoms or to confirm someone with symptoms has COVID-19,” Dr. Krueger said. “However, if you have COVID-19 symptoms and test negative using an at-home antigen test, you should still get tested with a PCR test. Research has shown a negative at-home antigen test with symptoms is not as reliable.”
If you were exposed, talk to your testing site to determine when you should be tested. No matter the situation, testing should not be avoided.
“I know people have now been tested several times for COVID-19 and they are sick of getting tested, but the way to get out of more testing is by doing more testing,” Dr. Krueger said.
One of the most recent COVID-19 developments is that treatments are slowly becoming available. However, many of these treatments need to be taken prior to COVID-19 becoming severe.
“If you have a positive COVID-19 test, you should talk to your doctor about next steps as soon as possible,” said Dr. Krueger. “They may recommend treatments such as monoclonal antibody therapy to reduce the severity of COVID-19.”
You also can use over-the-counter medicines to reduce your symptoms such as taking acetaminophen to reduce a fever or taking a cold medicine to make you feel better. Getting plenty of rest and fluids are important during this time.
No matter how you feel, Dr. Krueger warns you should not go back to your daily activities until you have completed your isolation as recommended by your doctor or public health official.
For some, COVID-19 can have devastating effects on their health. It is important to recognize the signs of severe COVID-19 early so you can get the help you need as soon as possible.
“One of the most disheartening things about the pandemic is that people are waiting too long before seeking care from their health care provider,” Dr. Krueger said. “Sometimes coming in a day earlier or simply talking to your doctor can make a huge difference in the outcome.”
There are some early signs of COVID-19 that you should not ignore. You should talk to your doctor about coming into the hospital if you experience:
- A fever for more than five days;
- Shortness of breath or a cough;
- Severe chest pain;
- Leg swelling; or
If you do come in for care, you should ask your doctor if they have any specific procedures for you to follow when you get to the hospital or clinic to ensure the safety of staff and patients.
“COVID-19 is an extremely serious condition, which is why it is important to keep your care team informed,” Dr. Krueger said. “A simple phone call could save your life.”