When you become infected with COVID-19, what are you supposed to do? Everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 does not need to seek medical care. Young, otherwise healthy people without any comorbidities who are experiencing mild symptoms can recover at home.
“Most cases of COVID-19 actually resolve without needing any kind of prescription medication or advanced care,” explains Dr. Melanie Swift, co-chair of Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution Work Group.
When it comes to at-home COVID-19 care for mild symptoms, Dr. Swift says it’s about the simple things: getting rest, staying well-hydrated, and possibly taking over-the-counter medications for symptoms of a fever.
She says that what’s important is to make sure mild symptoms aren’t progressing into ones that may require medical attention.
“If you find that you’re having trouble breathing, you need to get medical attention,” says Dr. Swift. “Chest pain, or pressure in the chest, is another reason to stop with self-care and get medical attention. If you find yourself getting confused or lightheaded, or if you feel like you might pass out, that’s a reason that you need to get medical attention. And then if your oxygen levels were to drop very low, and you or other people noted that you started to look very pale or even bluish, especially your lips or fingertips, that’s a sign that you need more oxygen and need to get to medical care emergently.”
Certain people will need to contact their medical provider if they test positive for COVID-19 because they may be eligible for prescription treatment.
“If you are one of those people who are immunosuppressed due to medications that you take, or a blood malignancy or something like that, then you need to get in touch with your provider,” says Dr. Swift. “If you took a home test, and were positive on that, your provider may not know that you have COVID-19. So you need to let them know because if you are eligible for one of those prescription treatments, they would be able to arrange that for you. But most people don’t need that. Most people can stay home, take care of themselves, rest while they isolate, and stay well-hydrated.
For the safety of its patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was either recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in a nonpatient care area where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.
Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding, along with guidelines and recommendations, may have changed since the original publication date.
Melanie D. Swift, M.D., M.P.H.
Dr. Melanie Swift is the co-chair of Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution Work Group.