DORAL, FL – With all the confusion surrounding COVID-19, the disease that develops due to coronavirus, and the increasing number of cases in the United States where in Florida alone more than 1,000 cases have been reported of which 227 are in Miami-Dade, many people are wondering when to call a doctor and when to get tested.
To give you a broader understanding of how COVID-19 works, here we share a guide of what to know before hand or do if you strongly suspect you may have it.
First, you should know that this virus is often confused with the cold and the flu since it shows similar signs. This is the reason behind the increasing number of people who think they have the coronavirus even when they haven’t been exposed and their symptoms are more cold-like related.
Regardless of this, it is important to know that the disease that has the world upside down is rapidly evolving and scientists and doctors are still discovering new facts about it every day. Please stay informed and go to official sources such as CDC or the World Health Organization before deciding what to believe.
In the meantime, we can tell you what it has been discovered so far and the main differences between cold, flu and COVID-19.
The last one is a viral respiratory illness, with common symptoms of fever, dry cough, and sometimes difficulty breathing. Symptoms range from mild to severe, with the most severe cases potentially life-threatening, particularly in older people or those with underlying medical conditions.
Like other viral respiratory illnesses, this new disease is believed to be spread primarily through close contact with an infected person that has sneezed or coughed around other people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to an analysis made by the World Health Organization in 55,924 patients, people infected with the new virus developed fever in 88% of cases, dry cough in 68% and difficulty breathing in 19%, as stated in an article made by Consumers Reports. Sometimes people claim they are unable to breathe or speak easily or can feel out of breath after simple activities such as walking around the house.
At this point, it should be noted that symptoms vary substantially from person to person, as well as the severity of them. Some people around the world have even reported not showing symptoms at all, although they can still spread the disease out.
As for colds, these viral infections generally appear gradually with a runny nose, congestion, sore throat, and cough, usually at their worst 3 to 4 days after onset. Colds can also sometimes cause headaches, body aches, and fever, but are generally milder than those associated with influenza.
Regarding flu or influenza, this infection is notable for appearing quickly and causing high fever, severe body aches, and extreme fatigue. Occasionally, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea, but this is more common in children.
When to get tested or seek treatment?
Most COVID-19 cases are relatively mild and can be treated at home. However, you should consider several factors before seeking testing or treatment such as exposure, the severity of your symptoms, your age and current health condition. These are divided and explained by Consumers Reports like this:
1. You show no symptoms, you don’t think you have been exposed and you are at low risk:
People in this group who are under 60 and in good health don’t need to be tested. Instead, simply practice basic infection prevention protocols. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if you can’t wash your hands, avoid sick people, and listen to your local health department recommendations.
If you’re over 60, have a weakened immune system or underlying medical conditions like lung disease, heart disease, or diabetes, experts also recommend that you try to avoid large gatherings.
2. You have no symptoms, but you have had contact with a COVID-19 diagnosed patient: Currently, the CDC does not recommend to get tested for COVID-19 in these cases. Check with your local health department to see if their orientation differs. Also, watch your health carefully, avoid public environments and work from home if possible. It is especially important to stay alert to symptoms if you are over 60, immunocompromised, or have an underlying medical condition such as asthma.
3. You have mild to moderate symptoms, but you are at low risk and not sure if you have been exposed. If you fit this profile and are under the age of 60 with no other medical conditions, you can monitor and treat yourself at home. Isolate yourself as much as possible like you would with the flu. You may consider asking your primary care doctor or health department about the tests, but they may not be available. Call your doctor if symptoms worsen.
4. You have mild to moderate symptoms and are at high risk. If you are over 60 years old or have underlying health problems, contact your health department or doctor to see if you can get tested, even if you’re not certain of having been exposed to the virus.
5. You have mild to moderate symptoms and you know that you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Contact your doctor or local public health department for information on the tests. Call by phone instead of showing up at a doctor’s office or other healthcare setting, such as a clinic or emergency room, because it may not be safe for other people.
6. You have severe symptoms. If you have a high fever, persistent cough that keeps getting worse, or shortness of breath that makes it hard to talk, contact a doctor right away, regardless of your age or risk level. If it feels like a medical emergency, with significant difficulty breathing call 911. Tell health authorities that you can have COVID-19 when you call and if you have a face mask, put it on before emergency personnel arrive.
Where to get tested for COVID-19 (drive-thru) in Miami-Dade?
? Community Health of South Florida Doris Ison Health Center
Address: 10300 SW 216th St., Cutler Bay
Testing Hours: Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.; by appointment only
Contact information for questions or to schedule an appointment: 305-252-4820.
? Larkin Community Hospital
Address: 1475 W.49th Pl., Hialeah
Testing Hours: By appointment only
Contact information for questions or to schedule an appointment: https://cvtesting.larkinhospital.com/en and phone number 305-830-0790.
? Marlins Park – Coming Soon
Address: 501 Marlins Way, Miami
Testing hours and screening information to be announced.
? Hard Rock Stadium
Address: 347 Don Shula Dr, Miami Gardens
Testing Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily