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The Powerful And Ultimate Guide To Recover From COVID-19

To certain people, COVID-19 works out close to a severe cold or flu. Yet testing positive sounds a lot more worrisome: there's no way to say for sure

The Powerful And Ultimate Guide To Recover From COVID-19

To certain people, COVID-19 works out close to a severe cold or flu. Yet testing positive sounds a lot more worrisome: there's no way to say for sure what the recovery will look like, and there's also the additional factor of trying to stop spreading the virus at all costs.

The good news is that since the early days of the pandemic, scientists have learned a lot about this outbreak. That will help you to learn more about what to expect, what to do to get better and when it's safe to be around other people again, as well as how your health might be affected down the road.

Here's what you need to know about healing from COVID-19—and how to move on once you're back in good health.

How Long Can The Symptoms Last?

Once it comes to how horrible you 're going to feel and when you're going to be better, COVID-19 is like a box of hell chocolates: you don't really know what you're going to get.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC), the virus comes with a broad range of potential symptoms which can begin anywhere from two to 14 days after you've been exposed. This may include:
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Fever or chills
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
And of course, there are also a lot of people who know nothing. Although the evidence continues to improve, up to 40 percent of people with COVID-19 could be fully asymptomatic, according to the CDC 's July 2020 estimate.

According to the CDC, about 80 percent of people with symptoms would have mild symptoms. In this situation, mild means the symptoms are not too severe to send you to the hospital; When you're in that boat, the road to improvement may look similar to recovering from a bad cold or flu, says Stony Brook, New York-based internist Sunitha Posina, MD. Hopefully, in a week or two, you'll start feeling like you again.
Approximately 80 percent of COVID-19 patients have mild symptoms and do not need hospitalization.

Symptoms also begin to get serious for those who encounter problems within the second week of being sick. The symptoms include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Pain or pressure in your chest
  • Confusion
  • Trouble staying awake
  • Bluish lips or face
In this scenario, it is hard to predict how long it will be before the symptoms get better. "We have a large range when you're treated," says Dr. Posina. "We've got people staying for a day or two and needing oxygen, but then there's a whole other group of people who get really sick and have to be put on a ventilator finally."

The Way to Recovery

Right now there's no treatment right COVID-19. "It's all about love," says Dr. Posina. And what that sort of treatment looks like has a lot to do with the symptoms being so bad. Here's what you need to know about at-home rehabilitation and what you would expect if you encounter complications and need to go to the hospital.

Personal Recovery At Home

The Powerful And Ultimate Guide To Recover From COVID-19
Creator: Justin Paget | Credit: Getty Images

To stop transmitting the infection, separate yourself from others in your house — and if you can't, make sure you wear a mask. Mild COVID-19 cases that sound like a bad cold or flu are improving quickly, with additional measures to reduce the chance of making someone else ill. Even if you don't feel that bad, staying at home is necessary, and separating yourself as much as possible if you are living with others. "You will be quarantining for 14 days while you are isolating yourself," says Dr. Posina.

That means, according to the CDC, trying to remain in your own room, wearing a mask when you need to communicate with others, and being careful about washing your hands and cleaning shared surfaces as much as you can. Limit your pet touch, too, via CDC.

Work on finding ways to feel better, once you have the distancing down. Experts urge you to:

  1. Keep on hydrated. Drink plenty of water or beverages such as herbal tea, broth, or coffee. Steer clear of caffeine and alcohol, which can be dehydrated.
  2. Get as much rest as possible. Sleep is crucial to helping the immune system fight off the infection, says Mark Cucuzzella, MD, University of West Virginia professor of family medicine.
  3. Take OTC drugs when required. Options such as acetaminophen can help with fever and malaise.
  4. Slowly get back to activity. Resist the desire to force yourself, even though you don't feel bad enough. When your quarantine has ended and your symptoms have subsided, continue with easy activities such as walking and build up gradually from there. "Exerting yourself raises the oxidative demand of your body, and your body may not be able to cope with that. We don't know yet," says Dr. Posina.
Finally, hang in there: If you feel crummy but your symptoms don't turn to the realm of severity, you'll probably be back to yourself in a week or two, with Johns Hopkins Medication.

How To Recover at the Hospital?

There is less of a simple general structure, per Dr. Posina and Dr. Cucuzzella, for patients who need hospitalization. What you may need to get better depends on factors such as the oxygen levels and any problems you are experiencing (such as pneumonia) and any diseases you may already have in common.

In the end, COVID-19 care recommendations are still changing, and many individual hospitals are formulating their own plans, Dr. Posina says.

Because there is no cure, the goal of your medical team is to treat your symptoms while your immune system is fighting off the infection. When the oxygen levels are low, you should possibly be given supplemental oxygen; patients who have serious breathing issues can need to be placed on ventilators. Your breathing will be closely tracked, and you will be given IV fluids to prevent dehydration.
In a serious case of COVID-19, the overall recovery period can take 6 weeks or more.

You can also undergo drug treatments that are becoming more common quickly including:

  1. Remdesivir: The antiviral drug is routinely administered, as preliminary results published in the New England Journal of Medicine in May 2020 found that it shortens recovery time in patients needing supplemental oxygen from 15 to 11 days.
  2. Dexamethasone: A widely used corticosteroid, it is the go-to drug to treat serious lung failure as it has been shown to minimize death risk. Dexamethasone is known for its ability to minimize inflammation and suppress overactive immune function and is approved for patients needing ventilators or supplemental oxygen by the National Institutes of Health ( NIH).
  3. Anticoagulants or blood thinners: COVID-19 has been shown to cause dangerous blood clots in the lungs in some extreme cases, so you'll probably get a blood thinner such as warfarin as a preventive measure per NIH.
Your doctors are likely to send you home until your fever breaks and your breathing is back to normal, the CDC 's interim guidance as of July 2020. These are two signals the body is on the mend. You may need to test negative for the virus in certain cases too. Tell the health-care team what signs will cause you to seek medical attention again.

Following this, the emphasis will be on gradually regaining your strength and returning to normal life — which could take a few weeks, months, or even longer depending on how serious the symptoms are and how long you have been hospitalized.

"Lying in bed for days affects the cardiovascular system and the working of the body," says Dr. Cucuzella. "When you can do everyday life things, you don't need advanced treatment, but if you're really frail, you can need physical therapy or support to get back to being independent."

When do you feel like yourself again, at last? The timing varies widely but according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the average recovery period for serious COVID-19 cases can take six weeks or longer.

How Would You Be Around People?

The Powerful And Ultimate Guide To Recover From COVID-19
Creator: Bloomberg | Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images

A negative COVID-19 test result, along with other markers, can mean you can be around others safely without transmitting the virus. Part of healing from COVID-19 isolate yourself as much as possible to prevent transmitting the virus via the CDC to others. When you have been admitted to the hospital, ask the care team when it's safe for you to be around people again. Otherwise, it is usually safe to get out of isolation once the symptoms have completely subsided.

To ensure that you are good to go, you'll want to refer to the CDC checklist. After reaching all three of these requirements, you will be amongst others:

  • No fever for 3 days or more at least.
  • Your respiratory symptoms have improved (coughing and breathing problems).
  • It's been 10 days or so since the symptoms first started.
Your doctor may suggest getting re-tested in some cases. If so, because you don't have a fever it's safe to be around people, your breathing problems are improving and you've had two negative test results at least 24 hours apart, per CDC.
And What If after Recovery you go on to Remain Positive?
Sure, it could happen. People who are still testing positive after getting well are not infectious (and therefore have antibodies to prevent them from getting sick again, at least in the short term) by the Korea Centers for Disease Control research reported in May 2020. In those cases, the tests tend to pick up on dead virus material that is already present in a person's body — but not necessarily able to make anyone else sick.

Experts in this region believe, including the CDC. "Being healed doesn't mean you have to go through a negative check. If you've been through the quarantine for 14 days and your symptoms are been, I 'd presume you 're better, "says Dr. Posina.

Tackling the Stigma of Illness

You may even feel like walking around with a huge, scarlet C on your chest until you are all better. While the consensus is that once you're completely healed, it's safe to be around people — even if you tend to test positive — you may find that others are weird about being around you.

Given the evidence to indicate otherwise, family members or friends might still be afraid you may make them sick. And there is the whole problem of why you got COVID-19 first: Didn't you wash your hands sufficiently? Not putting on a mask? Standing one moment too next to another at the grocery store? Some people might also say that you've gotta get sick because you didn't abide by the rules. Or put it another way, you deserved it.

Of course, this kind of stigma is not right. Yet it still sounds terrible — and can be difficult to handle. Start by realizing that there is nothing "bad" about having COVID-19. "This is an illness that everyone and anyone will develop. It is difficult to avoid," says Dr. Posina.

Remember to understand the viewpoints of others, too. "Recognize stigma is fear motivated by lack of understanding, so try not to take it personally," advises Gail Saltz, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at the Weill-Cornell School of Medicine, NY Presbyterian Hospital.

And hold your story open. "The more we think about both the scientific knowledge and personal experiences, the more the general stigma will diminish," she says.

Post-Recovery: What Would Be Next?

Since COVID-19 is still so new, experts do not know anything about how the virus may have long-term effects on a person's health. There is no lack of studies documenting individuals who tend to suffer weeks or months of residual symptoms. Some patients — particularly those with serious symptoms — continue to have issues with lung disease, results published in the journal Respiratory Research as of June 2020.

This is not to suggest that anyone who gets the virus will necessarily have health problems. Far be it. "Most men, like any other virus, won't have trouble recovering," says Dr. Cucuzzella. "But we may have some clear evidence about the possible long-term health effects in a year. We don't know what we don't know right now." In the near term, here are several measures to be taken.

COVID-19 Best Practices Start

Seek to look after yourself as best you can. But in the short term, you 're unlikely to get reinfected, we don't know whether you can catch another round of COVID-19 later on, per CDC. That's why maintaining physical distancing, wearing a mask, and washing your hands is so important — both to protect yourself and others, says Dr. Cucuzella.

Get Aid

When concern about your future wellbeing tends to become unbearable, do not hesitate to reach out to a doctor in mental health or local hospitals. Some are now operating virtual support groups for people who have or are currently experiencing COVID-19. Talking to people who know what you have learned will make you feel more comfortable.

Donate Plasma

Eventually, consider ways in which you can be put in a unique role to support others. Scientists are currently researching how to use plasma (the liquid component of blood) from those who have recovered from COVID-19 to support those who are ill at the moment.

"What we're doing is giving patients the [people who're no longer sick] antibodies to see if those antibodies will combat the infection," says Dr. Posina. "We don't have enough evidence to know whether it works 100 percent, but after receiving plasma I have seen patients who have improved."

Donating plasma is as simple as donating blood, and as long as you've been free of symptoms for 14 days, you 're usually eligible, depending on the United States. Meat and Medication Management. (You don't need a negative test result.) Visit RedCrossBlood.org or the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project to find out where to give away near you.
  • [message]
    • Was this something of an Emergency?
      • To minimize the risk of transmitting COVID-19 infections, if you experience high fever, shortness of breath, or another, more severe symptoms, it is best to contact your doctor before you leave the home.

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