If you come down with mild or moderate COVID-19, you probably know that you need to stay home to avoid infecting other people. But you may not know all the things you can do to feel less awful while your immune system battles the virus.
Over-the-counter drugs and nondrug interventions can help you cope with COVID-19 symptoms, which are typically some mix of fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, headache, fatigue, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, muscle or body aches, diarrhea, nausea, or other issues.
If you are at high risk of becoming extremely sick or even dying from COVID-19 — because you are elderly or obese, for example, or because you have a medical condition like diabetes — you may be eligible for new experimental therapies authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Unfortunately these treatments, which include antiviral pills and monoclonal antibody infusions, are currently in short supply.
The first thing you should do if you think you have COVID-19: Call your doctor. Even if you think your symptoms are not severe enough to bother a healthcare provider about in the middle of a pandemic, it’s still important to reach out.
“We don’t want people to suffer in silence, at home and possibly alone,” says Paul Pottinger, MD, an infectious disease doctor at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. “Whether it’s in person or online, if you’re sick and suspect you have COVID-19, you should talk to your doctor, and together you can decide if you need to be tested or [admitted to a hospital] for COVID-19.”
Read on to learn about what happens during a medical appointment, how to cope with symptoms using a variety of strategies, and whether you might be a candidate for one of the new investigational interventions.
Note: The following are signs and symptoms of severe COVID-19 that should prompt you to seek immediate emergency care, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in your chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake up or stay awake
- Pale, gray, or blue-colored lips, skin, or nail beds (depending on skin tone)