Should You Go to the Doctor For COVID-19? Here’s What Experts Say

By Brittany Leitner
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UPDATE: This article has been updated with new information on Oct. 14, 2020 - 12 p.m. EST.

Amid coronavirus fears, any cough or sniffle can send people into a frenzy. By now, you’ve probably heard that the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions are most at risk, but the reality is, the virus can spread to anyone. In an effort to keep COVID-19 contained and to keep up with your health, you might be wondering if you should go to the doctor for COVID-19. Here’s what The Dr. Oz Show medical team has to say about novel coronavirus symptoms, when to reach out to your doctor, and more.

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If you suspect you are experiencing novel coronavirus symptoms, don’t go to the doctor; call your doctor. Staying home until you know what’s truly going on is best. Your doctor will provide further instructions for what to do from there and probably recommend a testing center you can go to based on symptoms. 

The first thing you should ask yourself if you feel sick is to check your temperature or for respiratory symptoms. Symptoms like dry coughs and fever have been linked to novel coronavirus. However, doctors now recognize a growing list of symptoms related to COVID-19, including loss of taste, loss of smell, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Because of this, it can be hard to predict whether you have COVID-19 or another illness.

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: Are you feeling so ill that you’d normally contact a doctor anyway? Do what you’d normally do if you feel sick — if you think you can manage at home, it's okay to try that at first. But if your symptoms do not appear to be getting better, it’s always better to be safe and check in with your doctor. A phone call can be a good first step, but if you think you need in-person care, do not hesitate to head to the office, an urgent care center, or the emergency room — depending on the severity of your symptoms.

Additionally, here are some signs, according to Sharecare, that could indicate COVID-19 is causing a greater health emergency and you should seek medical care immediately.

 Red flags may include:

  • Extreme difficulty breathing (such as gasping for air, being unable to talk without feeling out of breath, severe wheezing)
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or disorientation
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Signs of low blood pressure (too weak to stand, dizziness, lightheadedness, feeling cold, pale, clammy skin)
  • Dehydration (dry lips and mouth, not urinating much, sunken eyes)
  • New or worsening seizures
  • Loss of consciousness or difficulty waking up or staying awake

If you do seek in-person care, remember to do whatever you can to protect those around you. Call ahead to see if there are any special restrictions or intake procedures for people who think they may have COVID-19. Wear a cloth face covering at all times, and practice social distancing when in the waiting room.

Related:

Flying During COVID-19: What to Know Before You Board

How to Care for Older Family Members Amidst the Novel Coronavirus Scare

No, COVID-19 Isn’t the Flu or ‘Just a Cold’

Article written by Brittany Leitner