A: Taking care of yourself and focusing on getting better is priority #1! Get rest, stay hydrated, isolate physically but connect emotionally, and watch out for warning signs.
COVID19 is widespread and more and more folks are getting sick. Now is a good time to remind ourselves of the basics of self-care when diagnosed with COVID19.
#1) Stay home. Most people who get COVID19 will have a mild illness and can recover in the comfort of their own home. Do not leave your home except to get medical care. If you haven’t already, it is time to embrace contactless delivery of groceries, take out, and other supplies!
#2) Rest up! Being sick is a lot of work and puts stress on your body. If your body is tired, rest it!
#3) Stay hydrated. You may not be feeling very hungry, and that’s ok. It is more important that you keep hydrated and drink plenty of water. Take small sips frequently (about 1 teaspoon every minute); don’t chug. Pedialyte and packaged oral rehydration solutions are available as well. You can also make your own (sorry, they taste terrible) following one of these recipes: https://med.virginia.edu/…/Homemade-Oral-Rehydration…. If you are concerned you are getting dehydrated, call your primary care clinician straight away.
#4) Physically isolate: People with COVID19 need to isolate from others to avoid spreading the virus. If possible, stay in a separate bedroom, use a separate bathroom, and do not share clothes, towels, utensils, or dishes. If you cannot completely isolate, wear a mask when around others, wash hands frequently, and clean high touch surfaces daily. Isolation should last until you are at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared AND at least 24 hours with no fever without using fever-reducing meds AND your symptoms are getting better. For more info on isolation, check out https://www.cdc.gov/…/if-you-are-sick/isolation.html. The World Health Organization has a good run down of the research behind isolation strategies here: https://www.who.int/…/criteria-for-releasing-covid-19….
#5) Emotionally connect: It can feel lonely to isolate for so long and you may be feeling scared, angry, or sad. Connect with others in safe ways: video chat, email, call, send goofy memes, play online games; whatever brings you joy and closer to your loved ones. Maybe you are someone that really just needs some alone time. If that’s you, that’s ok too! Enjoy a little bit of time to yourself!
#6) Over the counter pain and fever reducing medicines are ok. Early in the pandemic, there was fear that taking a class of medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) was associated with severe disease.
SAIDs are medicines like ibuprofen and diclofenac. Fortunately, this turned out not to be true. NSAID medications do not increase your risk of COVID complications. Ask your primary care clinician if you have any medical reasons not to take these types of medicines.
#7) Avoid boredom. Keep your mind engaged and entertained. Binge watch your favorite TV show, read that comfort book you keep coming back to, find all the Twitter accounts that feature hilarious cats, or get caught up on work (or think of new ways to avoid it and tuck those ideas away for later). Set some time away for yourself every day to do something you enjoy and keep your brain stimulated.
#8) Watch out for warning signs and monitor your symptoms: Seek immediate medical attention for difficulty breathing, pain or pressure in your chest, feeling confused, bluish color on your lips or face, are too weak to stand, extremely dizzy or lightheaded, or are unable to drink fluids.
Please remember there is no shame in illness. Getting sick did not mean you did something wrong. Maybe you took every precaution, maybe you didn’t. We all make choices and incur some level of risk. No one is looking to get sick and no one deserves to feel guilty, embarrassed, or ashamed.
It is important to share your diagnosis with those close to you so they can support you through this! Please also tell those who have had any close contact with you (someone who was within 6 feet of you for a total of 15 minutes or more within 2 days before illness onset) so that they can quarantine and get tested too.
As always, this does not substitute medical advice from your clinicians.
The CDC has info on how to take care of yourself if you are sick, including a symptom checker, at https://www.cdc.gov/…/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html.