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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do to best protect myself from COVID-19?

The best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated, and to encourage your loved ones who are unvaccinated to get vaccinated. Other ways to protect yourself include wearing a well-fitting mask in public spaces, socially distancing, and regularly washing your hands.


Which COVID test should I take (home vs. rapid vs. PCR)?

The Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is the most sensitive and specific test for diagnosing COVID. However, the sensitivity may vary, depending on where you are in the course of your illness. False negative results range from < 5 to 40%, depending on the PCR test used. If the PCR test is positive, then this confirms your diagnosis of COVID-19. If your PCR test is negative and you remain symptomatic or there is clinical suspicion of this result, then re-testing is recommended.

The rapid tests, including home tests (also known as antigen tests) are less sensitive than PCR tests. If your rapid test is negative and you remain symptomatic or there is clinical suspicion of this result, then re-test with a PCR test. The rapid tests are more sensitive 5 to 7 days after symptoms develop.

References:

Cheng MP, Papenburg J, Desjardins M, et al. Diagnostic Testing for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Related Coronavirus 2: A Narrative Review. Ann Intern Med 2020; 172:726.

Weissleder R, Lee H, Ko J, Pittet MJ. COVID-19 Diagnostics in Context. Sci Transl Med 2020; 12:eabc1931.


What can I take for COVID-19 symptoms?

COVID-19 comes with an array of symptoms including fever, chills, headache, fatigue, cough, sinus congestion, runny nose, and sore throat.

For a fever, headache, or sinus congestion, you can alternate between taking 1-2 Tylenol 325 mg tablets every 4-6 hours and taking 2 Ibuprofen 200 mg tablets every 6-8 hours, as needed. Additionally, stay well hydrated by drinking water and monitoring your fever with an oral or tympanic thermometer.

For sinus congestion, you can use nasal spray like Afrin (no longer than 3 days) and/or use a Neti pot twice a day.

To treat a sore throat, you can alternate Tylenol and Ibuprofen, use sore throat spray and lozenges, drink hot tea, drink plenty of water, and gurgle with salt water rinses.

For a cough, you can take Robitussin 10 mL every 4 hours as needed, take an antihistamine (Claritin, Zyrtec), drink plenty of water, use cough drops, and take Pepcid AC daily until your cough dissipates.

You should consult with your primary care provider before starting any of these over-the-counter medications to ensure they do not conflict with any of your current medications or chronic medical diseases. If you develop shortness of breath or chest pain, call your primary care provider or 911, depending on the severity of your symptoms.


For how long do I need to quarantine? How long will I be contagious? When can I go back to work?

If you test positive for COVID-19 and you are asymptomatic (showing no symptoms), then you should isolate for at least five days from the date you tested positive. Isolation refers to separating those who are infected from those who are not infected. If you are symptomatic, you should isolate for at least five days after your symptoms first started, not from the time you tested positive. If you continue to have symptoms including a fever for over 24 hours, continue to isolate until you are fever-free for 24 hours, without the assistance of fever reducers. If your symptoms are improving and you no longer have a fever on Day 5, then you are advised to wear a mask for the next 5 days when with others or in public.

Reference:

Quarantine and Isolation guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


When can I get an antibody test after having COVID? How long will my immunity last after getting COVID?

Immunity can last as little as 30 days or up to months after infection. At this time, we are not recommending antibody testing. The antibody tests that are available to the general public are not specific enough to measure the immunity within your T cells. There are experimental research studies being conducted now that are looking at the immunity of individuals across an array of different scenarios, including those infected with COVID-19 before or after being fully vaccinated.

Fully vaccinated means having received two doses of m-RNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer) or one dose of a recombinant vector virus (Johnson & Johnson [J&J]). The best way to protect yourself and others is to get your booster shot after being fully vaccinated: five months after your second dose of Moderna or Pfizer, and two months after your first dose of J&J. It is OK to mix and match the m-RNA vaccines. We recommend getting a m-RNA for your booster if you originally received J&J as your first dose.


If you have any further questions about COVID-19, please feel free to contact your Quintessential Care doctor here or via our Patient Portal.


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