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You have COVID-19 …Now what?

AS the amount of testing being done and the number of hospitalised COVID-19 patients continue to rise, more and more patients are facing time alone at home with the notoriously dangerous virus. This can be scary, confusing, and stressful.

Here’s what you need to know if you test positive for COVID-19:

Isolate

We have all heard this one and that’s because it is one of the most important actions that you can take. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 10 days of isolation from the onset or start of symptoms.

Now, if you don’t live alone this can prove to be a challenging undertaking. Planning for isolation requires using your own bathroom, kitchen and bedroom. It’s important to stay in separate rooms (including during meals and sleep), and everyone else in the house should wear a mask in common areas.

Also, be sure to step up the sanitising of shared surfaces and avoid sharing things such as cups and towels.

Test everyone

If you test positive, it means your entire household has been exposed and, therefore, they should also be tested. Ensure you test at an approved lab so that your results can be reported to the Ministry of Health and Wellness and they can reach out to you for further guidance.

Take your medication

Hospitalised patients all take vitamins, antibiotics and a few more medications to ensure recovery. You should be taking:

1. vitamin C;

2. vitamin D3;

3. zinc;

4. panadol (for fever or pain);

5. all your other regular medications for any other illnesses; and

6. drinking lots of water

Consult with a doctor via telemedicine, he or she may opt to also put you on antibiotics and/or steroids. Sick leave/quarantine orders may also be issued to you online.

Hydrate

Hydration is essential to recovery. It can be compared to being on a ‘drip’ or IV (intravenous) line helping the body flush toxins and fight the virus. A person of average weight should drink about one to 1.5 litres of water per day if they have tested positive. Remember to get rest so that your body can recover faster.

Eat well

Don’t forget to eat well! Home-cooked meals with low salt are best.

World Health Organization (WHO) recommends consuming fresh fruits and vegetables every day. Citrus fruits, like oranges, clementines, and grapefruit, are good options, as well as bananas and apples.

In terms of vegetables: cabbage, broccoli, carrots, turnips, and beets are all recommended options, and, of course, garlic, ginger and onions.

Contact your telemedicine doctor

If you’ve just tested positive and started isolating, it’s a good time to reach out to your doctor and get advice tailored to your symptoms and medical history. This is especially important for patients with any chronic illnesses, such as lung disease or diabetes, but also for healthy people.

Monitor your blood oxygen levels

If possible, purchase a pulse oximeter for your finger to use at home, watching for a drop in your oxygen levels down to 94 per cent or below.

A thermometer is another important home instrument to have during this pandemic. Anything above 100.4F or 38C is considered a fever.

Both of these devices are available at your nearest pharmacy.

Monitor your other medical conditions

Coronavirus tends to send your chronic illnesses out of control. Blood sugars and blood pressures increase, and respiratory conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) get much worse.

If you have diabetes or hypertension, ensure you are checking them regularly at home with your glucometer and sphygmomanometer (blood pressure machine), respectively. They should be checked at least four times per day.

Know when to seek medical attention

Most asymptomatic cases can be safely managed at home. If your medication doesn’t seem to be controlling your diabetes, hypertension, asthma, or other chronic illnesses, contact your doctor. If you have a persistently high fever, shortness of breath or a pulse oximeter reading less than 94 per cent, you should seek medical attention immediately.

But don’t get too caught up in the numbers. If you get a feeling that “something’s not right”, don’t delay medical care. No one knows your body better than you do.

These days it’s easy and affordable to consult a doctor safely from home using telemedicine. If you’re unsure, get medical advice from a doctor quickly online.

Stay in isolation until symptoms resolve

The CDC recommends that you can stop isolating if you have been free of symptoms and fever for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medication. We recommend three days with no symptoms, which would be a two-week isolation period.

Remember to continue to wear your mask, wash your hands and social distance even after your isolation period is complete.

Dr Ch Bowen is founder and CEO of MDLink Ltd.

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