COVID-19 Symptoms (And What to Do if You Think You're Infected)

The pandemic is far from over—specially with the rise of new variants, the public health situation is a never-ending cycle of contractions, moving from strict lockdowns to eased quarantine protocols and back again. This pattern leaves the healthcare system always maxed out, with barely enough time to recover from the spike in cases before the cycle starts over again.

With the threats of the new variants of the virus, noted to be more contagious—it's seemingly harder to break from the cycle. But we can all do our part in slowing down the spread of the virus by adhering to strict health protocols, like wearing masks and social distancing. If you can, avoid staying for prolonged periods within enclosed and air-conditioned spaces. Most importantly, know what coronavirus symptoms to be wary of.

  1. Fever - a body temperature around 37.5 °C or higher is one of the most common early symptoms of a COVID-19 infection.
  2. Cough - it can be a dry cough which later can progress to cough with phlegm production.
  3. Shortness of breath - COVID-19 can cause pneumonia that disrupts normal oxygen transfer as the immune system tries to fight off infected cells in the lungs, which causes difficulty in breathing.
  4. Loss of taste or smell - among the list of symptoms, loss of taste/smell is often the most associated with a COVID-19 infection, which lasts around 8 days on average.
  5. Fatigue - a COVID-19 infection can cause this symptom like with any other viral infections.
  6. Muscle aches - the SARS-CoV-2 virus can cause muscle inflammation which tends to be more generalized.
  7. Runny or stuffy nose
  8. Nausea - an upset stomach and the urge to vomit can be symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
  9. Diarrhea - often come before or together with respiratory symptoms during a COVID-19 infection.

These symptoms typically manifest five days after exposure. However, there have been instances when they appeared as early as two days or as late as 14 days after exposure. Remember that these symptoms can also be seen with other illnesses such as the common flu. So do not self-diagnose. Moreover, do not panic. If you feel any of the symptoms cited above, refer to the following guidelines.

 

What Should You Do If You Think You Have COVID-19?

1. Isolate yourself.

Any time you start to feel COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of how mild, take it upon yourself to self-isolate. That's most crucial if you live with people who are vulnerable to the disease, such as the elderly and those with comorbidities. Even if you have yet to get tested or receive the result of your diagnostic test, it's best to be safe.

Remember that COVID-19 can spread via the things you touch and the droplets released from your mouth and lungs when you speak or cough, so it's crucial to distance yourself from your loved ones. Have a set of eating utensils that's strictly for your personal use and clean it properly.

 

2. Get tested.

There are two ways to get tested: RT-PCR and rapid antigen tests.

RT-PCR test

With the RT-PCR test, a swab sample is taken from a patient’s nose or throat to determine the presence of SARS CoV-2 RNA. This is currently the gold standard of COVID-19 diagnosis1, with results that have accuracy rates of 97%2 or higher.

Rapid antigen test

The rapid antigen test detects the presence of proteins that are part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from samples collected via nasal swabs. These are faster than RT-PCR tests, but they can often produce false negative results, so the DOH3 only recommends them in cases where RT-PCR tests are not immediately available.

 

3. Consult with your doctor.

Even if you have not received any test result or have yet to be tested for COVID-19, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you suspect exposure to someone infected with COVID-19 or are feeling any of the symptoms above.

You do not have to leave the house to consult with a physician. Some establishments offer e-consultations, so maximize that opportunity. That way, you're not putting other people at risk.

Read: Medical Institutions in PH with COVID-19 Telemedicine Facilities

 

4. Follow the advice of healthcare professionals.

Based on your physician's advice, take your prescribed medicines and/or supplements. If you are taking other supplements or medications for other conditions not prescribed by a physician, make sure to let your doctor know to avoid any drug-to-drug interactions that may compromise the effectiveness of medications or result in side effects.

If you need to stock up on meds but cannot go out, check out our online shop where you can buy medicines for delivery.

 

5. Go to a hospital

If your symptoms worsen, consult immediately with your doctor if hospital admission is necessary. Let professionals look after you. Treasure your life, and the expenses will sort themselves out.

 

Know What to Do to Avoid COVID-19

We may be far from reaching the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’re making consistent progress. Less than 2% of the Philippine population have been vaccinated thus far, and LGUs are encouraging more people to get vaccinated as new shipments of vaccines4 continue to arrive. The best that we can do is be cautious and vigilant.

Continue following health protocols. Be conscious of any COVID-19 symptoms you might be feeling. Self-isolate and get tested as soon as possible. That way, you're not just protecting yourself but your loved ones, as well. Check out our COVID-19 PH Resource Center for more information and resources on COVID-19.

 

Sources:

  1. https://doh.gov.ph/doh-press-release/RIGHT-TEST-FOR-THE-RIGHT-REASON-UPDATES-ON-TESTING-TECHNOLOGIES-AND-PROTOCOLS-FOR-COVID-19
  2. https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/iq/things-to-know-polymerase-chain-reaction-rapid-anti-body-tests
  3. https://doh.gov.ph/sites/default/files/health-update/dm2020-0468.pdf
  4. https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/data-documents/tracker-covid-19-vaccines-distribution-philippines

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