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How to care for respiratory illness at home

If you suspect you have a mild case of COVID-19 or another respiratory illness, you may be able to recover at home.

Some cases are more severe than others, and emergency signs require immediate medical attention. These signs may include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

If your symptoms are mild, it’s still important to notify your doctor, so call your healthcare provider’s office to report what you're experiencing. If you are asked to stay home and monitor your illness, here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you do next:

1. Stay home from work, school, and away from other public places. If you must go out, avoid using any kind of public transportation, ridesharing, or taxis.

2. Monitor your symptoms carefully. If they get worse, call your healthcare provider immediately.

3. Get rest and stay hydrated.

4. If you have a medical appointment, call the healthcare provider ahead of time and tell them that you have or may have COVID-19.

5. For medical emergencies, call 911 and notify the dispatch personnel that you have or may have COVID-19.

6. Cover your cough and sneezes.

7. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

8. Stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home as much as possible. You should also use a separate bathroom, if available. If you need to be around other people in or outside of the home, wear a facemask.

9. Avoid sharing personal items—like dishes, towels, and bedding—with other people in your household

10. Clean all surfaces that are touched often, like counters, tabletops, and doorknobs. Use household cleaning sprays or wipes according to the label instructions.

Remember, your doctor may offer specific directions not included on this list. Follow the guidance of your healthcare provider first.

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