By Colleen Lehmann, Douglas County public health liaison
Much has been discussed about the recommended precautions to lessen your chances of getting COVID-19, and of the COVID testing process itself. But, with numbers soaring, perhaps what has not been adequately addressed is what to do if you contract COVID.
If you’ve been paying attention at all (was there even a choice?) you know that symptoms can range from non-existent to life-threatening. Many folks experience body aches, fever, sore throat, loss of taste and/or smell, cough, extreme fatigue, gastrointestinal upset, shortness of breath, sinus issues and headaches. For a small segment of the population there are more serious neurological issues, up to and including seizures and strokes.
Once you get a COVID diagnosis, you’re relegated to your home for several weeks. But what to do while you’re there? Here are a few recommendations.
This cannot be stressed enough … you need your rest! If moving from your bed to a chair counts as a major accomplishment, embrace it as such and call it a victory. Your body is fighting a formidable foe, don’t make it battle you too.
Keeping your body properly hydrated allows it to carry out its normal functions, which is especially important when contending with a virus. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, confusion, fatigue, infrequent urination, listlessness, and irritability.
To the extent possible, keep a log of your daily symptoms. Take your temperature several times; be aware of how often you are going to the bathroom, eating and taking in fluids. Note changes in the severity or recurrence of symptoms—is your cough worsening, your fever continually climbing, your urine output dwindling? This will be helpful should medical intervention prove necessary.
Supply and Demand
What supplies, medical and otherwise, should you have on hand, in the event you do contract COVID?
Make sure you have a reliable thermometer and start taking your temperature now so you know what your baseline tends to be. This will help you be more aware of when fever spikes are occurring. Also note that when your temperature reaches 103, it’s time to call your doctor.
This non-invasive, over-the-counter tool clips to the end of your finger to measure oxygen saturation in your blood, which determines how well oxygen is being sent from the heart and lungs out to the further parts of the body. This would be particularly important for people with underlying heart and/or lung disease.
For obvious reasons, this should be in your medicine cabinet.
*Water and electrolyte-enriched beverages
It’s not a bad idea to have electrolyte-laden drinks on hand to offset imbalances that may result if you experience dehydration due to vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive sweating. At the very least, keep water flowing into your body throughout the day.
Chances are, the last thing you’ll feel like doing is preparing food for yourself. Canned soup, microwave meals, anything quick and easy to get from the cupboard to your stomach is what you want to stock up on. Crackers and bread can help combat nausea, and again, be sure to have plenty of fluids on hand as well.
*Disposable gloves and trash bags
Trash cans should be lined with plastic bags and gloves should be used when removing and disposing of the bags in any room used by a COVID patient.
Daily cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces (think doorknobs, light switches, faucets, sinks, toilets, electronics) should be done if at all possible. And a note about laundry – you can combine the COVID patient’s laundry with the rest of the household’s, but use the warmest water setting you can and dry on hot if possible. Use gloves to handle the dirty laundry from the COVID patient.
When to call for help
Isolating yourself from the rest of your household if possible (no direct contact, using separate bedroom and bathroom) is recommended by health officials as you recover from COVID-19, but maintain daily verbal contact with someone so help can be summoned if necessary. It’s time to seek medical intervention if you experience:
*Persistent pain or pressure in your chest
*Inability to wake or stay awake
*Bluish lips or face
*Any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
While we certainly wish there was no need for this information, taking precautionary steps now will help ease your mind if your household becomes COVID positive. Stay safe, wear a mask, and wash your hands … until we meet again.