For most people, especially those younger than 65 and those without underlying medical conditions, exposure to COVID-19 might lead to minor symptoms, comparable with a common cold or average flu.
We’ve heard patients and community members describe symptoms such as headache, digestive issues such as diarrhea, cough, fatigue, runny nose, slight mental confusion, a desire to sleep, fever, body aches and chills.
A recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association pointed out that 24% of COVID-19 cases are spread by people who never experienced any symptoms at all, or had symptoms so minor they were undetectable. Another 35% of cases were spread by people before they experienced symptoms. (This is exactly why we all wear masks and try to stay 6 feet away from others as much as possible).
The CDC warns that anyone who experiences difficulty breathing or hardening of the chest should seek emergency medical care right away.
The rules regarding self-isolation after confirmed exposure to COVID-19 or a positive test have evolved, here are the latest guidelines from the CDC.
Regarding how long isolation should last, you can be around other people after at least 10 days from the day of your first symptoms and at least 24 hours since you had no fever without taking a medication to reduce fever. Your symptoms should be improving before you associate with others, although the loss of taste or smell may linger beyond the required isolation period.
If your illness was severe, you were admitted to the hospital and needed oxygen, your health care provider may urge you to isolate for longer, possibly up to 20 days.
If you test positive for COVID-19, but you do not develop symptoms, self isolate for 10 days since your positive result.
While self-isolating, try to stay in a room separate from others, use a different rest room if possible and don’t share dishes or utensils. Wear a mask when around other people, even inside your own home.
The CDC now says there is no need to get a second test before returning to work, unless you are exposed again or develop new symptoms. That’s because people who recover from COVID-19 may continue to test positive for three months or more without being contagious to others. Keep a copy of your positive test with the date in case you need to travel or prove you have recovered.
Also, if you test positive, the CDC is urging that you delay being vaccinated against COVID-19 for three months from your first symptoms or positive test, as it’s believed you are protected from reinfection during this time by your own anti-bodies. The short supply of vaccines may be better used for those who have not contracted COVID-19 yet.
Contact your doctor with any questions or concerns about your exposure or positive COVID-19 test.
To download a copy of a simple 2 page explanation from the CDC, click here.