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Think You Have COVID? Here's the First Thing You Should Do

Here's five things to do if you think you have COVID, according to experts.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

The winter surge is here and COVID cases are spiking in many areas across the U.S. While experts believe that Omicron, the latest variant, is less severe than Delta or COVID-19, it's highly contagious and precautions need to be taken. So what should you do if you think you have it? Eat This, Not That! Health talked to Dr. Robert G. Lahita MD, Ph.D. ("Dr. Bob"), Director of the Institute for Autoimmune and Rheumatic Disease at Saint Joseph Health and author of the upcoming book Immunity Strong, who explained exactly what to do. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Get Tested and Do Not Interact with People

Close-up of young man getting PCR test at doctor's office during coronavirus epidemic.
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The first thing you should do is to get tested, says Dr. Bob. "Start by getting a home test. They are extremely easy and about 84% accurate. They rarely give a false positive, so if you get a positive result, isolate per CDC guidelines—even if you are asymptomatic. Do not go anywhere or interact with people, lest you spread the virus. After the five days are up, you may leave the house while wearing a mask for the next five days if you do not have symptoms."

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2

Double Check the Results

Negative test result by using rapid test device for COVID-19, novel coronavirus
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"If you are negative but have symptoms, schedule a PCR test. These are the most accurate type of test currently available for COVID," Dr. Bob explains. 

Memorial Health Care states, "PCR testing is considered the 'gold standard' in SARS-CoV-2 detection. This test actually detects RNA (or genetic material) that is specific to the virus and can detect the virus within days of infection, even those who have no symptoms. The test can be done in a clinic, hospital, or even in your car. Turnaround time is longer, generally in the 2-3 day range but results can be in as little as 24 hours. When demand is high, results can take a week or longer."

RELATED: 5 Ways You're Most Likely to Catch COVID

3

Get In Your Vitamins

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According to Dr. Bob, "Once you confirm whether or not you have COVID, it's time to boost your immunity by taking Zinc, Vitamin D, and Vitamin C. These are essential to being immunity strong."

RELATED: These Medications are Best for Omicron Symptoms

4

Sleep

woman smiling while sleeping
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Extreme fatigue can happen with COVID so Dr. Bob says getting sleep is imperative to getting better. "Get extra rest if you can. Sleep works wonders for the immune system and helps your body to fight off infections."

RELATED: Signs You Have a "Leaky Gut," Say Experts

5

Get Vaccinated

Nurse gives students a vaccination in school during coronavirus pandemic
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"Once you have recovered, ensure you are up to date on all of your Covid vaccines and boosters," Dr. Bob reminds us. "Just because you got Covid this one time doesn't mean you can't get it again – or catch a different variant the next time around. Vaccines and their subsequent boosters will help protect you and keep you out of the hospital if you get infected again." 

6

How to Stay Safe Out There

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Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more
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