Diagnosis

If you develop symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and you've been exposed to the COVID-19 virus, contact your doctor. Tell him or her if you've traveled to any areas with ongoing community spread of the COVID-19 virus according to CDC and WHO. Also let your doctor know if you've had close contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Factors used to decide whether to test you for the virus that causes COVID-19 may differ depending on where you live. Depending on your location, you may need to be screened by your clinic to determine if testing is appropriate and available.

In the U.S., your doctor will determine whether to conduct tests for the virus that causes COVID-19 based on your signs and symptoms, as well as whether you have had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or traveled to or lived in any areas with ongoing community spread of the COVID-19 virus in the past 14 days. Your doctor may also consider testing if you're at higher risk of serious illness.

To test for the COVID-19 virus, a health care provider uses a long swab to take a sample from the nose or throat. The samples are then sent to a lab for testing. If you're coughing up sputum, that may be sent for testing. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized at-home tests for the COVID-19 virus. These are available only with a doctor's prescription.

Treatment

Currently, no medication is recommended to treat COVID-19, and no cure is available. Antibiotics aren't effective against viral infections such as COVID-19. Researchers are testing a variety of possible treatments.

The FDA has granted emergency use authorization for the antiviral drug remdesivir to treat severe COVID-19. The U.S. National Institutes of Health recently recommended the corticosteroid dexamethasone for people with severe COVID-19 who require supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation.

Supportive care is aimed at relieving symptoms and may include:

  • Pain relievers (ibuprofen or acetaminophen)
  • Cough syrup or medication
  • Rest
  • Fluid intake

There is no evidence that ibuprofen or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) need to be avoided.

If you have mild symptoms, your doctor may recommend that you recover at home. He or she may give you special instructions to monitor your symptoms and to avoid spreading the illness to others. You'll likely be asked to isolate yourself as much as possible from family and pets while you're sick, wear a mask when you're around people and pets, and use a separate bedroom and bathroom.

Your doctor will likely recommend that you stay in home isolation for a period of time except to get medical care. Your doctor will likely follow up with you regularly. Follow guidelines from your doctor and local health department about when you can end home isolation.

If you're very ill, you may need to be treated in the hospital.

Clinical trials

Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this disease.

Coping and support

It's common to feel fearful and anxious during the COVID-19 pandemic. You're probably worried that you or those you love will get sick. You may be concerned about taking care of yourself or others who are ill.

During this time, remember to take care of yourself and manage your stress.

  • Eat healthy meals.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Get physical activity as you're able to, such as using exercise or yoga videos. If you're healthy, go outside for a walk.
  • Try relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, stretching and meditation.
  • Avoid watching or reading too much news or spending too much time on social media.
  • Connect with friends and family, such as with phone or video calls.
  • Do activities you enjoy, such as reading a book or watching a funny movie.

If you're ill with COVID-19, it's especially important to:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink fluids.
  • Let your doctor know right away if your symptoms worsen.

Having COVID-19 or caring for someone with the disease can cause stress and anxiety. If stress is affecting your daily life after several days, contact your doctor. He or she may suggest that you talk to a mental health professional.

Preparing for your appointment

During a pandemic, it's not always possible for everyone who is ill to see a doctor. You may start by seeing your primary care doctor or other health care provider. Or you may be referred immediately to a doctor trained in treating infectious diseases. If you think you have COVID-19, tell your doctor or clinic before going in. The doctor and medical team can then:

  • Contact infection prevention and control and public health officials
  • Prepare to move you to a room quickly
  • Have a mask ready for you

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance. Make a list of:

  • Your symptoms, including any that seem unrelated to the reason for your appointment
  • Your recent travels, including any international travels
  • Key personal information, including major stresses, recent life changes and family medical history
  • All medications, vitamins or other supplements you take, including the doses
  • Questions to ask your doctor

Take a family member or friend along, if possible, to help you remember the information you're given. Avoid bringing more than one or two people. Check before you go to the appointment, as your hospital or clinic may have visitor restrictions.

Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • How likely is it that the new coronavirus is causing my symptoms?
  • What are other possible causes for my symptoms?
  • What tests do I need?
  • What course of action do you recommend?
  • Are there restrictions I need to follow?
  • Should I see a specialist?

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you several questions, such as:

  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • Where have you traveled recently?
  • Who have you been in close contact with?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
Aug. 07, 2020
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  9. Emergency use authorization. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-legal-regulatory-and-policy-framework/emergency-use-authorization#coviddrugs. Accessed June 15, 2020.
  10. Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: FDA authorizes first standalone at-home sample collection kit that can be used with certain authorized tests. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-authorizes-first-standalone-home-sample-collection-kit-can-be-used. Accessed May 20, 2020.
  11. Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: FDA authorizes first diagnostic test using at-home collection of saliva specimens. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-authorizes-first-diagnostic-test-using-home-collection-saliva. Accessed May 20, 2020.
  12. Interim guidelines for collecting, handling, and testing clinical specimens for COVID-19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/lab/guidelines-clinical-specimens.html. Accessed June 29, 2020.
  13. Speth MM, et al. Olfactory dysfunction and sinonasal symptomatology in COVID-19: Prevalence, severity, timing, and associated characteristics. Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. 2020; doi:10.1177/0194599820929185.

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