Each case of COVID-19 might express itself uniquely

It can appear as a very mild disease in some individuals while extremely severe in others. In rare cases, the disease can even lead to organ failure and death.

On top of the potential of being extremely debilitating, the disease is also highly contagious. Thankfully, testing for SARS-CoV-2 (specific Coronavirus that causes COVID-19) has ramped up in order to help identify the infected early and slow the spread of the disease.

One can get tested for SARS-CoV-2 at a variety of places including a local pharmacy, health agency, hospitals and clinics, as well as “Pop-up” and community testing sites. However, with the increased accessibility to SARS-CoV-2 testing, more individuals are testing positive for the infection.

If one does happen to test positive, unfortunately, it can result in a rush of emotions such as being frightened or overwhelmed. One of the first questions people ask after testing positive for COVID-19 is, “what’s next?” The purpose of this article is to help guide individuals on the care plan after testing positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

If one does happen to test positive, unfortunately, it can result in a rush of emotions such as being frightened or overwhelmed.

Testing positive with no current symptoms

As mentioned above, some individuals with COVID-19 experience no symptoms through the course of the infection. However, it is still important to take the following precautions in order reduce the risk of spreading the disease to others.

Once an individual tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 while being asymptomatic, their healthcare provider will provide specific advise on what the next steps are in the care plan. This typically involves isolating oneself for at least 10 days since testing positive. Isolation involves staying away from all people, even family members, for the full length of time except for seeking medical care.

If an infected individual is living in the same vicinity as others, attempting to use a separate bathroom, staying in a separate room, avoiding contact with other people and animals, and not sharing common household items are all extremely important aspects in preventing the spread of the disease.

Depending on the healthcare providers specific advice and availability of testing, they may recommend the individual get tested again to see if they are still COVID-19 positive. If this is the case, the individual can abandon isolation after receiving two negative test results in a row, at least 24 hours apart.

Testing positive with active symptoms

Once again, if an individual tests positive for COVID-19 their healthcare provider will provide advice and a particular care plan that’s specific to the individual. For people that test positive and are experiencing symptoms, they should isolate themselves for at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared and at least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medications assuming symptoms have improved.

Common symptoms that people often experience correlate with the common cold or influenza:

  • Runny nose
  • Cough (productive or non-productive)
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath

Supportive medications such as: fever reducers, OTC pain medications, antihistamines and nasal decongestants can help provide symptom relief but should be directed by a healthcare provider and used with caution. If symptoms become too overwhelming, one should seek medical care for appropriate treatment in order to prevent increased morbidity and mortality.

As mentioned above, an individual may be tested again in order to see if the infection is still prevalent, depending on the healthcare providers advice and availability of tests. If one is tested again, they can be around others when they have no fever, respiratory symptoms have improved, and they receive two negative test results in a row, at least 24 hours apart. Advice to help decrease the spread of the disease while remaining in isolation is the same as mentioned in the prior section of the article.

Critical: If symptoms become too overwhelming, one should seek medical care for appropriate treatment in order to prevent increased morbidity and mortality.

Testing positive with weakened immune system

Many things can alter or decrease the function of an individual’s immune system. This can include certain medical conditions and medications, which have the ability to limit the body’s ability of adequate immune function.

Individuals that fall into this category are at increased risk of testing positive for COVID-19 due to the body not being able to fight off the infection as well as people with normalized immune function. If one does test positive and has a weakened immune system, communication with a healthcare provider is extremely important.

They may recommend that the individual isolate themselves for longer than 10 days and may recommend repeat testing to ensure the infection is cleared, due to this patient population being at increased risk for morbidity and mortality from the disease.

Again: If an individual’s symptoms start to interrupt their quality of life or become unmanageable, they should seek medical care immediately.

Typically, one with a weakened immune system can steer away from isolation after receiving two negative test results in a row, at least 24 hours apart. As mentioned earlier, this specific population is at an increased risk of morbidity and mortality, which essentially means being more severely symptomatic. If an individual’s symptoms start to interrupt their quality of life or become unmanageable, they should seek medical care immediately. Advice to help decrease the spread of the disease while remaining in isolation is the same as mentioned in the prior sections of the article.