What to do if you have coronavirus symptoms
If you have lupus, you are at higher risk for infections like the coronavirus (COVID-19), as well as serious complications related to infections. That is why it is not only important to protect yourself from COVID-19 but to also know what to do if you began experiencing symptoms of the virus.
If you suspect you have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it, we urge you to follow these Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations to care for yourself and help prevent the spread of virus:
It’s important to get tested for COVID-19 as soon as you begin experiencing symptoms, or if you've been in contact with someone who has tested positive. There are a number of treatments that are now available for COVID-19 that are more effective in the early stages of the disease.
You can administer a rapid self-test at home or call your doctor or local health department for a lab test, which may take 2-3 days to get results. If you take an at-home test and it is positive, call your doctor right away and continue to isolate yourself. If you take an at-home test that is negative and your symptoms persist, you should consider calling your doctor to get the more sensitive lab test.
The CDC has an online tool to help you decide if you should get tested.
Watch for symptoms
Symptoms of coronavirus range from mild to severe, and they may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. According to the CDC, you may have COVID-19 if you have:
- Shortness of breath
Or at least two of the following symptoms:
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
- Nausea or vomiting
These symptoms may not require hospitalization, but it is very important to monitor them because they can quickly become more severe. The CDC considers the following symptoms emergency warning signs and recommends seeking medical attention immediately if you are experiencing any of them:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to wake
- Pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nail beds (depending on skin tone)
This list is not all-inclusive, and you should consult your health care team if you are having other severe or concerning symptoms. The CDC offers a Coronavirus Self-Checker that can help you make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care.
Talk to your health care team
It is critical that you keep your health care team up to date on the status of your health if you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms. Even if you do not have an upcoming appointment, you should contact your doctors to inform them of your symptoms and ask for their advice on the next steps to care for yourself. If you do have an upcoming appointment, be sure to inform the doctor’s office of your status -- if it is not an emergency appointment, the medical visit may be postponed or canceled. Follow your state and local health department’s recommendations
Make sure you are informed of state and local health care department recommendations and follow them to the best of your ability.
Stay home if your symptoms allow it
If your symptoms are not too severe and do not require medical attention, it is important that you remain home. For errands, like grocery shopping, see if it is possible to have a family member, friend, or neighbor assist you. You can also use delivery apps to get what you need. Have the items dropped off outside of your door if possible to minimize contact with other people.
Isolate yourself from people in your household
If you are experiencing symptoms, it is important to minimize the amount of contact you have with other people living in your home so you can prevent the spread of the virus in your household. Stay in a designated “sick room” if possible, where only you eat, sleep, and relax. If there are multiple bathrooms in your home, use a separate bathroom from everyone else in your household -- preferably one that is close to your designated “sick room.”
Do not share any household items, like utensils or dishes, with anyone else in your home. Someone in your house should carefully clean those items when you finish using them, as well as sanitize and disinfect all high-touch surfaces, like a shared bathroom or kitchen surfaces. High-touch surfaces also include phones, remote controls, counters, tabletops, doorknobs, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.
Everyone in your home—including you—should wear a facemask, if possible.
The CDC recommends that you wear a facemask if you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms or are caring for someone with symptoms. Because of the public health emergency that the coronavirus has created, facemasks may be reserved for healthcare workers. You may need to use a scarf, a bandana, or another kind of clothing to serve as a facemask. If you have to call medical professionals to your home, try to have a facemask on before they arrive. Cover all coughs and sneezes and clean your hands often
In order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in your household, it is very important to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw out used tissues in a lined trash can.
Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap often -- especially if you have coughed or sneezed. If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Rub your hands together with the sanitizer until they feel dry. People in your household should also be washing and sanitizing their hands frequently and should avoid touching their face with unwashed hands.
Discontinuing home isolation
Regardless of your vaccination status, you can stop isolating yourself.
- If you've tested positive and you have symptoms, you can discontinue isolation after Day 5 if you no longer have a fever without the help of fever-reducing medication and other symptoms are improving.
- If you've tested positive and you had no symptoms, you may end isolation after Day 5. Continue to mask until after Day 10.
For more information, read the CDC's guidelines for isolation.
Bringing together all of our questions and answers, videos, news items, and resources around the coronavirus and how it affects people living with lupus.