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For cough and fever: this is how you behave correctly
For weeks we have been reading and listening to news about the new SARS-CoV-2 corona virus, the cause of the lung disease COVID-19. But what exactly should you do if you suddenly experience symptoms such as cough or fever?
Which steps do I have to take, how do I take good care of myself and how do I best protect my surroundings from infection? The American health agency "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention" (CDC) and the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) provide answers.
The most important thing in advance: If you also experience one of the following symptoms in addition to cough and fever, please get medical help immediately on telephone number 112:
- Shortness of breath,
- persistent pain or chest pressure,
- emerging confusion or inability to stand up
- bluish lip or face color
For symptoms other than those mentioned here, please always seek help if you consider the symptoms to be threatening or very serious.
Important: Let the phone know that you may have COVID-19 and, if possible, put on a protective mask as soon as help arrives.
1. How do I know if I have CODIV-19?
The only way to reliably find out whether you have a flu infection or COVID-19 is to do a test. However, the capacity for these tests is limited.
The Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) provides information on the new type of corona virus on a special website and explains how the decision for or against testing is made. If, in addition to symptoms of illness such as cough or fever, the following points apply to you, a test is recommended:
"If you are ill and have had close contact with someone who has had coronavirus detected in the laboratory in the past 14 days, if you have signs of illness such as shortness of breath and you belong to a risk group: So you have a previous illness or are older than 60 years if you have signs of illness and come into contact with people at work or volunteer who are at high risk of serious illnesses and need special protection; for example in the doctor's office, in the hospital or in geriatric care, ”says the BZgA.
If you can answer “yes” to any of these three points, please call the responsible health department, your family doctor's office or call 116117 for more information.
Danger: Regardless of whether a test is carried out or not, you should currently isolate yourself with symptoms such as cough, fever, sore throat or shortness of breath as a precautionary measure, i.e. quarantine.
This also applies if you have no symptoms, but have had close contact with a person who has tested positive for corona in the past fourteen days.
2. Stay home
The CDC advises to only leave the house or apartment during quarantine or self-isolation in order to receive medical care. Most people who develop COVID-19 have a mild course of the disease and do not need special medical care. Usually it is enough to rest and drink enough water.
If you need medical advice or support, call your GP, 116117 or 112 in an emergency.
3. Keep your distance from other people in your apartment
Contact with family members, roommates, or pets should be kept to an absolute minimum, the American health agency recommends:
“Stay in a specific room as far as possible and away from other people and pets in your home. You should also use a separate bathroom, if available. If you have to be in or outside the home with other people or animals, wear a fabric face cover. ”
4. Monitor your symptoms
You should keep a close eye on yourself and watch for changes in your health. If you are in contact with your family doctor or the health department, follow the instructions.
Here, too, the CDC advises: If you experience breathing difficulties, you should seek medical help.
5. Always call doctors' offices beforehand
You can only see doctors if they are unavoidable. In this case, the American health authority recommends: "If you have a doctor's appointment that cannot be postponed, call your doctor's office and say that you have or could have COVID-19. This will help practice to protect yourself and other patients. "
6. Wear mouth protection when in contact with others
If you cannot avoid being near other people or animals, the CDC advises you to cover your nose and mouth with a protective mask made of fabric. If you don't have a face mask, improvise with a cloth.
If you suffer from breathing difficulties and therefore cannot put on a mask, cough and sneeze in a handkerchief or the crook of your arm. In any case, keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters from others to protect them from infection.
7. Ensure good cough and sneeze hygiene
The pathogens are transmitted by droplet infection, mainly when coughing or sneezing. Therefore, you should cover your mouth and nose with a cloth if you have to cough or sneeze.
It is best to use paper handkerchiefs and dispose of them after a single use in a trash can that is lined with a trash bag. This bag should be changed regularly.
The CDC advises washing your hands immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose: “Wash your hands immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand disinfectant that contains at least 60% alcohol. ”
8. Wash your hands frequently
In general, you should now wash your hands more often than usual, each time for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. "This is especially important after you blow your nose, cough, or sneeze, go to the bathroom, and before you eat or prepare food," says the American health agency. If soap and water are not available, use hand disinfectants if possible.
"Use an alcohol-based hand disinfectant with at least 60% alcohol that covers all surfaces of your hands and rub your hands together until they feel dry," the CDC recommended.
In addition, you should not touch your nose, mouth and eyes with unwashed hands.
9. Do not share household items
Since the infection with the novel corona virus can probably also be caused by smear infection, you should not share household items with others. This includes glasses, cups, plates, cutlery, but also towels and bedding.
After use, you should thoroughly clean dishes with water and detergent or put them directly in the dishwasher. Towels and bedding should be changed and washed regularly.
10. Clean frequently touched surfaces daily
In order to avoid contamination from smear infections, the CDC gives tips for cleaning surfaces that you come into contact with frequently. According to the CDC, this includes telephones, remote controls, medical measuring devices, table tops, door handles, bathroom fittings, toilets, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables:
"Clean and disinfect touch-intensive surfaces in your 'sick room' and bathroom. Let someone else clean and disinfect the surfaces in common areas, but not your bedroom and bathroom. If a caregiver or other person needs to clean and disinfect a sick person's bedroom or bathroom, they should do so as needed. The caregiver / other person should wear a mask and wait as long as possible after the sick person has used the bathroom. "
Household cleaners and disinfectants should be used for cleaning, the CDC continues: “Clean the area or object with soap and water or another cleaning agent if it is dirty. Then use a household disinfectant. Make sure you follow the directions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product. Many products recommend keeping the surface moist for several minutes to ensure germ kill. Many also recommend precautions such as wearing gloves and good ventilation while using the product. ”
If necessary, find out in your family doctor's office or at 116117 which cleaning agents and disinfectants are effective against the virus.
11. When can I remove the quarantine or self-isolation?
The local health department decides when you can leave the quarantine.
In the case of precautionary self-isolation, you should consult your family doctor's practice or get information on telephone number 116117 or online on the information page of the Federal Center for Health Education. (kh)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Magistra Artium (M.A.) Katja Helbig
- Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). What to do if you are sick; (accessed on April 24, 2020), CDC
- Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA): Information on the novel coronavirus / COVID-19; (accessed on April 24, 2020), BZgA