Diagnosis of COVID-19 (corona virus)
If you develop symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) or you've been exposed to the COVID-19 virus, contact your doctor. Also let your doctor know if you've had close contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Factors used to decide whether to test you for the virus that causes COVID-19 may differ depending on where you live. Depending on your location, you may need to be screened by your clinic to determine if testing is appropriate and available.
In the U.S., your doctor will determine whether to conduct tests for the virus that causes COVID-19 based on your signs and symptoms, as well as whether you have had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. Your doctor may also consider testing if you are at higher risk of serious illness or you are going to have a medical procedure.
To test for the COVID-19 virus, a health care provider takes a sample from the nose (nasopharyngeal swab) or throat (throat swab). The samples are then sent to a lab for testing. If you're coughing up sputum, that may be sent for testing. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized at-home tests for the COVID-19 virus. These are available only with a doctor's prescription.
Currently, no medication is recommended to treat COVID-19, and no cure is available. Antibiotics aren't effective against viral infections such as COVID-19. Researchers are testing a variety of possible treatments.
The FDA has granted emergency use authorization for the antiviral drug remdesivir to treat COVID-19. The U.S. National Institutes of Health recently recommended the corticosteroid dexamethasone for people with severe COVID-19 who require supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation.
The FDA has also granted emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma therapy to treat COVID-19. Convalescent plasma is blood donated by people who've recovered from COVID-19. It's used to treat people who are ill with COVID-19 in the hospital.
Supportive care is aimed at relieving symptoms and may include:
- Pain relievers (ibuprofen or acetaminophen)
- Cough syrup or medication
- Fluid intake
If you have mild symptoms, your doctor may recommend that you recover at home. He or she may give you special instructions to monitor your symptoms and to avoid spreading the illness to others. You'll likely be asked to isolate yourself as much as possible from family and pets while you're sick, wear a mask when you're around people and pets, and use a separate bedroom and bathroom.
It's common to feel fearful and anxious during the COVID-19 pandemic. You're probably worried that you or those you love will get sick. You may be concerned about taking care of yourself or others who are ill.
During this time, remember to take care of yourself and manage your stress.
- Eat healthy meals.
- Get enough sleep.
- Get physical activity as you're able to, such as using exercise or yoga videos. If you're healthy, go outside for a walk.
- Try relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, stretching and meditation.
- Avoid watching or reading too much news or spending too much time on social media.
- Connect with friends and family, such as with phone or video calls.
- Do activities you enjoy, such as reading a book or watching a funny movie.
If you're ill with COVID-19, it's especially important to:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink fluids.
- Let your doctor know right away if your symptoms worsen.
Having COVID-19 or caring for someone with the disease can cause stress and anxiety. If stress is affecting your daily life after several days, contact your doctor. He or she may suggest that you talk to a mental health professional.
Journal of Infectious Diseases and Diagnosis