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What Should You Do If You Develop COVID-19 Symptoms?

By Priya Mewada +2 more

Just when we thought the worst part of the pandemic was over, the second coronavirus wave hit us. Every day lakhs of COVID cases in India are being reported. The new COVID-19 strains that have triggered the second wave are very infectious and one infected person can spread the disease to many other individuals.


So, what should be your course of action if you think you are displaying signs of COVID? 

Recognise the symptoms of COVID

The usual symptoms of coronavirus include fever and sore throat, cough, weakness, loss of smell, taste. You may be surprised to know that the new COVID-19 strain triggers certain new symptoms in addition to the usual ones. Be mindful regarding-

  • Vomiting, Nausea
  • Loose motion
  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • Headache or body ache

What’s next?

Sometimes these symptoms may not show up all together and you may experience just one of these symptoms. If so, immediately isolate yourself in a separate well-ventilated room. Contact your doctor immediately. Book an RT-PCR test. The RT-PCR test is recommended for anyone who thinks he/she may have contracted COVID-19. This is a swab test and mucous is collected from your nasal passage or your throat with a cotton bud. The results are usually available between 48-72 hours. If you are unable to book the RT-PCR test, you can opt for the Rapid Antigen test. If your Rapid antigen test is positive, then no need to do the RT-PCR as it implies the presence of COVID.

What if you get a positive result?

If you witness any of the symptoms of COVID, don’t self-diagnose. Since the new strains of COVID are accompanied by new symptoms, it is very difficult to zero in on the real cause of the symptoms. Without any delay have a word with your doctor who may recommend an RT-PCR test. 

If you are unable to book a slot for the RT-PCR, you may opt for the rapid antigen test. Irrespective of whether the report is positive or negative, inform your doctor who will then suggest the next course of action. 

A positive RT-PCR result means you have COVID-19. There’s no need to be anxious. There are ways to deal with a COVID infection. The majority of COVID cases are mild and are treated at home. 

First things first, you need to visit or contact your doctor. Ensure you are wearing a mask. Your doctor will analyse your condition based on your age, fitness level, comorbidities, other diagnosed illnesses, oxygen saturation level or whether you are pregnant or are breastfeeding. Young people with no comorbidities, no breathing issues and normal blood oxygen saturation levels shall be advised of treatment at home. Here’s what you need to do –

Do’s and don’ts of self-isolation-

  • Do not self-diagnose and self-medicate. It can do more harm. 
  • Do let your doctor decide the course of medication. 
  • Take all your medicines as advised on time and complete the course. 
  • Don’t wait for the result of your RT-PCR test, if you notice the symptoms of COVID, wear a mask at home and stay in an isolated room. 
  • Stop following the news as gloomy updates can depress you.
  • Do not rush to do an HRCT chest, it is not recommended in mild cases. Your doctor will advise when to do it and if it is needed. 
  • Don’t forget to give yourself ample rest.
  • Do use your own washroom.
  • Don’t forget to wear a mask at all times.
  • Do change your mask every 6 hours.
  • Don’t throw away used masks.
  • Do spray your used mask with sodium hypochlorite 1% solution 
  • Don’t use the same cutlery as other members of the house. 
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Don’t ignore breathing exercises or pranayama, pursed-lip breathing or blowing balloons because these practices can help to increase lung efficiency.
  • Do practice ‘proning’ (lying on your tummy to open up the lungs). Do this for 15 to 30 mins but only when you have an empty stomach. Do Warm water gurgling to ease your sore throat. You can add a few drops of Betadine solution to lukewarm water for gargling. 
  • Use chlorhexidine mouthwash 3 times a day. 
  • Don’t forget to keep a thermometer and pulse oximeter with you.
  • Do check your blood oxygen saturation level and body temperature every six hours. Inform the readings to your doctor. 
  • Don’t sleep all day even if you feel exhausted.
  • Do pace about your room as a mild form of exercise to ward off the risk of blood clots in the legs. Do not exercise or overexert. 
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Avoid alcohol for at least 14 days.

Caregivers must-

  • Wear a mask while dealing with the patient.
  • Wash their hands after handling anything used by the patient.
  • Keep the cutlery of the patient separate. 
  • Give proper nutrition like daals, boiled eggs, sprouts, soups, coconut water, fresh fruits juices,dry fruits, lime juice and fresh home-cooked food to the patient.
  • If anytime the patient’s oxygen levels drop less than 93, or he/she develops breathlessness, confusion or high-grade fever for 5 days or more then the patient needs to be taken to the hospital for further care and evaluation.

What to do if the test comes back negative?

If you got tested because you showed COVID-19 symptoms and the test was negative, speak with your doctor. You might need to undergo another test. Improper administration of the test can produce a false-negative result

Another reason why you might have to get tested again is that sometimes if you opt for the test very soon after exposure, the result can be negative. The symptoms and the virus become detectable 6-14 days after exposure.

However, your doctor might say that your symptoms are triggered by a common cold or the flu, in which case, you needn’t undergo the COVID-19 test again.

Is HRCT necessary for all COVID patients?

No, only COVID-19 patients with moderate or severe infection require High-Resolution Computed Tomography of the chest. This detects if the person’s infection has progressed to pneumonia.

Health checkup is a very crucial part of our life. So, don’t miss out on it.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

Links and product recommendations in the information provided here are advertisements of third-party products available on the website. PharmEasy does not make any representation on the accuracy or suitability of such products/services. Advertisements do not influence the editorial decisions or content. The information in this blog is subject to change without notice. The authors and administrators reserve the right to modify, add, or remove content without notification. It is your responsibility to review this disclaimer regularly for any changes.


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