Isolation and Quarantine Guidance/Managing COVID 19 Symptoms

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Symptoms of COVID-19 

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from zero symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. 

This list does not include all possible symptoms. Symptoms may change with new COVID-19 variants and can vary depending on vaccination status.  Older adults and people who have underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19. 

Visit the CDC website for more information.

Possible symptoms may include:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever/chills

Feeling Sick?

If you are experiencing symptoms, consider the following options:

  1. Get tested for COVID-19 (click link for testing guidelines with and without symptoms)
  2. If you have already tested positive for COVID-19, see below for isolation guidance. You can also visit this website for more information. 
  3. Take care of yourself! To self-treat your COVID-19 symptoms at home, focus on:
Getting plenty of rest. While fighting a new virus, expect your body to be busy. By giving yourself plenty of time to rest, you'll help provide your body with the energy it needs to get the job done.

Drinking plenty of water. Making sure you're adequately hydrated can help alleviate several symptoms. Fevers are usually accompanied by increased sweating, and drinking lots of water can help replenish the extra water you're losing — preventing dehydration. If you have a dry cough, a teaspoon of honey in hot water can help soothe your throat. If you have congestion, a warm, non-caffeinated beverage or warm shower can help loosen mucus. In addition, ensuring you stay well-hydrated can aid your immune system as it fights off the virus.

Using over-the-counter medications when necessary. If you have a high fever, you can take a fever reducer, such as acetaminophen, to help bring it down. If you have body aches, a sore throat or cough, a pain reliever can help lessen the discomfort these symptoms can bring. You may also consider taking a nasal decongestant for a stuffy nose and an expectorant for chest congestion. Just be sure to follow the dosage recommendations on the bottles and don't take any medications that may conflict with any other medications you're taking or any health conditions you may have. 

There are treatments available. COVID-19 therapeutic treatments, including an FDA-approved antiviral IV therapy and oral antivirals, can help lower the amount of virus in your body, protecting you from severe symptoms.

The Massachusetts telehealth service for COVID-19 treatment can now be accessed by a telephone number (833-273-6330) OR this website. The telehealth service can tell you if the COVID-19 pill is right for you, and the pills can be sent to your pharmacy or to your home for free.  Click HERE for more information. Call your health care provider to discuss treatment options. 

And, remember, isolating means not leaving your home. If you need medications or other supplies to help you feel more comfortable, use a non-contact delivery service or ask a loved one or friend to deliver anything you may need to your doorstep.

The symptoms that come along with a mild to moderate case of COVID-19 can last anywhere from a few days to a week or more — with most people recovering from symptoms within two weeks. In the meantime, and in addition to the steps listed above, make sure you're monitoring your symptom severity and know when worsening symptoms mean you need medical care.

When to Seek Emergency Medical Attention

Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID 19:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

If someone is showing any of these signs, call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility. Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

What should you do if you test positive for COVID-19?

1. Take care of yourself! 

2. Check with your health care provider for possible treatments. If you don't have a health care provider, call the MDPH Telehealth line. Free telehealth consultations are available for eligible individuals 18 or older who are currently living in Massachusetts and insurance is not required. If you’re eligible, you’ll be connected with a clinician for a phone or video consultation within 30 minutes. This service is available in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese (simplified), Tagalog, Russian, Somali, French, Korean, Vietnamese, Amharic, and Marshallese. 

This service is not for medical emergencies or for individuals who are pregnant. If you are experiencing a medical emergency like having trouble breathing, please call 911.

3. Isolate-see below for updated isolation guidance. Click HERE for more information. 

Isolation Protocol graphic

What should you do if you are EXPOSED to COVID 19?

Quarantine protocol graphic