Doctors: Don’t panic if you show symptoms similar to COVID-19

Published: Mar. 17, 2020 at 4:00 PM EDT
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There is concern among Americans that if they show certain symptoms, that means they coronavirus.

“We’ve had several calls just today,” said Dr. Matthew Lewis at Lewis Family Care in Boyd County, Kentucky. “Patients concerned about symptoms that they’re having.”

Dr. Lewis says there can be some confusion about the symptoms because they are similar to common illnesses.

“That can be difficult because the symptoms that we are seeing with the coronavirus are similar to several other diseases we are seeing on a daily basis. Your bronchitis, your COPD exacerbations, pneumonia.“

Dr. Lewis says if you show flu-like symptoms, do not panic. You should still call your doctor to describe your symptoms, and as a precaution, do not just walk in to your doctor’s office or clinic.

Your doctor will be able to tell you, based on questions they'll ask, whether you need to be tested.

If you're a young, healthy person seeking testing, doctors also say the emergency room is not an appropriate first step and you should seek care with a primary physician or an urgent care first to reduce possible strain on hospitals.

“The risk of a bad outcome is very low with this virus. So there really is no need to panic. If you are in a high risk group, you want to make that phone call to your physician. The average patient though, will be able to ride this out at the house. Just stay away from folks and let their body fight the disease.”

While there is no treatment for COVID-19, most people who test positive experience mild symptoms and recover, and all who test positive must isolate at home or at a medical facility.

To lower the risk of respiratory germ spread, including COVID-19, the Virginia Department of Health encourages the following effective behaviors:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Avoid contact with sick people.

• Avoid non-essential travel.

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