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15 Worst Things You Could Do When You Catch COVID

Read until the end to make sure you don't put your life on the line.
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You've heard there is no cure for the coronavirus, but experts can tell you how to take care of yourself responsibly if you get it. Check out the 15 worst things you can do as a coronavirus patient so you can get healthy fast and keep your friends and family safe. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

1

You're Not Seeking Medical Treatment for Severe Symptoms

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Even if you're not a person who's at high risk for complications with COVID-19, it's important to pay attention to your symptoms. The CDC warns that you should seek medical attention immediately if you feel one or more of the following:

  • Pain or pressure in your chest.
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath.
  • Sudden confusion.
  • The inability to move.
  • Bluish face or lips.

These could be signs that you need assistance to continue breathing or that you're experiencing other complications with the virus.

The Rx: If you begin to feel any of these symptoms or other severe symptoms, call 911 immediately. Inform the operator that you have coronavirus and equip yourself with a face mask before emergency personnel arrive.

2

You're Continuing to Run Errands

Young woman with face mask walking through grocery store during COVID-19 pandemic.
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If you need Gatorade, try to get it delivered. Whether your area is under "shelter in place," "stay at home," or just "social distancing" orders, it's not a good time to cross things off your to-do list that involve public places. That's because the coronavirus is way more contagious than the flu or other airborne illnesses. "Based on most estimates, each infected person is infecting between two and three additional people," says Dr. Ranu S Dhillon, MD, from Harvard Medical School.

The Rx: Before you leave your house, ask yourself if it's essential right now. Doctor's appointments or pharmacy visits are understandable. But it's important to eliminate your time in public so you don't spread the virus. Leave your errand running to when you're completely cleared of COVID-19.

3

You're Not Staying Hydrated

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According to the Mayo Clinic, colds, flus, and other illnesses cause dehydration. Adequate water intake keeps your body functioning properly and gives it more ammo to fight off the virus as quickly as possible. 

Hydration through water and other liquids is also essential to negate some of the unpleasant symptoms associated with coronavirus. According to a study published in Nutrition Reviews, dehydration may cause confusion and headaches. These are also symptoms of COVID-19, so increasing your water intake may help you to feel better while going through the ups and downs of the virus.

The Rx: Proper hydration helps with kidney function and increases the health of your immune system. The Mayo Clinic suggests the average man drinks at least 15.5 cups of fluids and the average woman drinks 11.5 cups of fluid per day. If you're sick with coronavirus, increase these levels each day so you feel properly hydrated.

4

You're Not Resting Enough

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Rest is an important factor in getting better and beating the virus without experiencing risky complications. Since coronavirus attacks your lungs, it may feel like a huge effort to simply walk from your bedroom to the kitchen. Don't push yourself too hard if you're feeling bad and be sure you're not only resting, but also getting enough sleep. 

The Rx: According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep each night for optimal function. If you have COVID-19, your body's working overtime to try and fight off the virus. You may need much more sleep each night and you may find yourself needing naps or breaks to rest throughout the day.

5

You're Venturing Out Without Protection

Basic protective measures against new coronavirus. Wash hands, use medical mask and gloves. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Maintain social distancing. Wash your hands frequently
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If you tested positive for COVID-19, you shouldn't be out in public at all. Even if you're careful on a grocery store outing, you could still easily spread the virus. However, if you have to visit your doctor or there's another errand that's simply impossible to avoid, be sure you're wearing protection. Wear a face mask and continue social distancing yourself from anyone around you.

The Rx: Before leaving your home, wash your hands thoroughly and put on your face mask and gloves, if possible. Stay away from people as you're out in public and keep your face mask on for the entire trip.

6

You're Touching Surfaces While in Public

woman paying by credit card at juice bar. Focus on woman hands entering security pin in credit card reader
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If you're out for a doctor's appointment, be careful about touching materials and surfaces. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), COVID-19 is detectable for "up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel." If you get your own sneeze or cough droplets on these items, you can spread the virus to another unsuspecting victim.

The Rx: It's impossible to completely eliminate the need to touch surfaces when you're out and about but it's important to minimize what you touch as much as possible. Be sure your hands are clean before leaving the house and don't wipe your nose or put your fingers in your mouth before touching a surface in public.

7

You're Visiting Friends and Family

Middle Aged Couple Meeting Friends Around Table In Coffee Shop
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that after exposure to the virus, it can take two to 14 days before a person can begin to feel symptoms, if they do at all. If you spend time with friends or family members, you could pass on the virus and they won't know for days, allowing it to continue spreading.

The Rx: If you've been cooped up and are finally starting to feel better, don't think it's safe to hang out with other people just yet. Try video chats or conference calls to keep in touch with loved ones instead so you don't risk spreading the virus on to them.

8

You're Exposing Yourself to Large Crowds

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The more people you expose yourself to in large crowds, whether it's at a park or at the grocery store, the higher your risk for spreading COVID-19. Whether you fall into the "high risk" category or not, your adherence to social distancing techniques is crucial to stop the spread of the virus. 

The Rx: Avoid leaving your house altogether but if you must, implement social distancing techniques, including avoiding large crowds. The more people you come into contact with, the more likely you are to spread the virus.

9

You're Congregating With Your Neighbors

woman traveler wearing face protection in the prevention of coronavirus.
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Being cooped up in your house for weeks gets boring, especially if you run out of quarantine snacks. But you better think twice before you desperately knock on your neighbor's door with a bottle of wine for some much-needed social interaction. Don't assume it's okay to hang out with them because you feel better. Your symptoms may improve, but you could still be contagious and pass the virus down the street to your neighbors.

The Rx: While socially isolating makes for long and boring days, it's important to stay at home until you get the "all clear" from your doctor. If you miss your neighbors, take out some sidewalk chalk and write each other messages. Call out to each other from your porches or exchange numbers and keep in touch through text messaging.

10

You're Drinking Colloidal Silver

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Some manufacturers market colloidal silver as an ingestible product that helps boost your immune system while fighting bacteria and viruses. However, the Mayo Clinic warns that this statement simply isn't true. Colloidal silver is the same material used to make jewelry and there are no scientific studies that confirm it helps with immune function or offers any other positive results after ingestion.

The Rx: Don't fall for false claims that ingesting a colloidal silver supplement will help your body fight off coronavirus. If you really want to boost your immune system, eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water, get good sleep, and keep stress at bay.

RELATED: Everything Dr. Fauci Has Said About Coronavirus

11

You're Not Washing Your Hands Properly

scrubbing soapy hand against washbasin
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Washing your hands frequently is one of the best ways to prevent spreading the virus to others. It's even more important to thoroughly wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, before and after eating, or after spending time in a public place. If you're in a hurry or you don't have the right items for a proper handwashing, however, you're not doing much. A quick rinse in water doesn't kill the virus or other germs that may be on your hands.

The Rx: The World Health Organization (WHO) advises that you use an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water and wash your hands often. The CDC recommends scrubbing your hands with soap, preferably antibacterial, for at least 20 seconds, being sure to thoroughly rub in between fingers, on the backs of hands, and under fingernails, before rinsing under running water.

12

You're Not Taking Your Medication

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If you usually take a daily supplement for a vitamin deficiency or another type of prescription medication, such as blood pressure medicine, consult with your doctor after you receive your COVID-19 diagnosis. In most cases, you'll be advised to continue taking these medications or supplements as you were before your diagnosis. It's important to keep your health and body on track with the medications you need so you can fight the virus.

The Rx: If you're feeling groggy, tired, and weak from the coronavirus, it can be hard to remember to take your medication. If your doctor advises you to continue on your med schedule, try setting daily alarms to remind you when to take your medicine. Leave it easily accessible so you don't have to go searching for prescription bottles when your alarm goes off.

13

You're Using Public Transportation

woman with protective mask on her face commuting by bus during virus epidemic.
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In most areas, public transportation, including the bus and train systems, are still open to the general public. This may be the only way you can get to your doctor's appointment or complete another essential errand. But these modes of transportation put you at higher risk of spreading the virus. According to the CDC, "Crowded travel settings, like airports, may increase chances of getting COVID-19, if there are other travelers with coronavirus infection."

The Rx: If you have the virus, it's important to avoid contact with other people as much as possible. If you have other methods of transportation available to get to your doctor's appointment, such as your own car, a bike, or walking, choose these modes instead of public transit. Decreasing the amount of contact you have with others also decreases your risk for spreading COVID-19.

14

You're Eating Junk Food

Hands holding fresh delicious burgers with french fries, sauce and beer on the wooden table top view.
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As your body tries to fight off the virus, what you give it for fuel is of the utmost importance. According to the Cleveland Clinic, if you're feeling nauseous, don't force food down and let the feeling pass until you begin to eat. However, "your immune system does need nutrients, so if you're able to eat (and you feel like eating) you should get some calories in your body." Giving your body the right foods helps keep it strong so you can recover from the virus quickly.

The Rx: While it's tempting to turn to comfort foods like chips and candy when you don't feel well, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins are really what will help. When you're hungry, consider foods that are easy to digest, such as soups. Try to stick with healthy foods that have the nutrients your body needs.

15

You're Leaving the House Too Soon

Man in a face mask sits on a bench and looks at the street
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Your symptoms went away! You can finally walk around without feeling winded, your headache is gone, your fever broke, and the coughing fits have ceased. But just because you feel better doesn't mean you're clear to go outside or head to the grocery store. You may still be contagious and you could still spread the virus to others you come into contact with, including your household members, if you're not careful.

The Rx: According to the CDC, you can only stop home isolation if you receive two negative tests in a row from your doctor that were taken 24 hours apart, your fever has naturally dissipated, and your other symptoms have visibly improved. 

If you can't take a test, you're only cleared to leave your home if your fever has naturally dissipated for at least 72 consecutive hours, your other symptoms have visibly improved, and it's been at least seven days since your first symptoms appeared. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Kelly Hernandez
Kelly Hernandez is a health and wellness writer and certified personal trainer. Read more