What to Do If You Get Sick While in Self-Isolation

Dr. Phil Mitchell
Medically reviewed by Dr. Phil MitchellMarch 27th, 2020
Sick in Isolation

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) affecting more and more people every day, cities, counties, states, and even entire countries have begun implementing mandatory quarantines. Even in areas where lockdowns aren’t in effect, people are choosing to isolate themselves in their homes—practicing social distancing and going out only when absolutely necessary—to avoid both contracting the virus themselves and spreading it to others.

If you’re in self-isolation and you’ve started feeling ill, you may be stressed and unsure about what to do next. It’s important to pay attention to your symptoms and note whether they’re associated with the coronavirus, since that will impact how you should proceed. Some of the most common coronavirus symptoms include:

Plus, additional symptoms that the CDC recently added to the list:

  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

If You Think You Have the Coronavirus

If there’s a chance that you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus and you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you should promptly call your medical provider for advice that’s tailored to your specific circumstances (if you don’t have a regular provider, you should contact your local health department). They will let you know whether you need to seek testing and treatment or report your symptoms, and if there are any other steps you need to take.

Often, people who have the coronavirus but aren’t experiencing severe symptoms are able to recover in the comfort of their own homes. If that’s the case for you, you should stay at home and only leave the house to obtain medical care (if you do need to visit a medical provider’s office, be sure to call and notify them ahead of time so that they can take any necessary precautions). When you do leave the house, wear a facemask and avoid using public transportation.

If you’re being tested, you should continue to stay at home until you’ve received two consecutive negative tests (collected at least 24 hours apart), you no longer have a fever, and your other symptoms have improved. If you’re not being tested, you should wait until you haven’t had a fever for 72 hours, your other symptoms have improved, and a full week has passed since your symptoms first appeared. Note that in either case, the absence of a fever should not have been caused by a fever-reducing medication.

While at home, if you live with other people, you should make every effort to stay away from them and not share personal items like dishes, bedding, and towels (you should also attempt to stay away from pets, if possible). If you can, try to remain in a separate room and use a different bathroom. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue whenever you cough or sneeze, and frequently wash your hands and apply hand sanitizer. You should also clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces—like countertops, phones, and keyboards—at least once each day.

It’s important to note that certain coronavirus symptoms require immediate medical attention. If your condition worsens or you develop any of the following symptoms, seek help right away:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Bluish coloring in your lips or face
  • Confusion

If You Think You Have Another Illness

If you’re feeling sick, but your symptoms don’t match those of the coronavirus, you should still follow the CDC’s guidelines regarding social distancing to avoid both contracting something else and spreading your illness to others. Many people who are experiencing illnesses other than the coronavirus right now are hesitant to visit primary care providers and urgent care centers because they don’t want to risk exposure to COVID-19. Fortunately, DispatchHealth offers an in-home emergency room alternative for individuals who require prompt medical care but don’t want to leave the house. By delivering care for patients’ urgent health needs, we allow them to stay home and recover safely, while lowering medical costs.

In-Home Care Either Way

DispatchHealth’s medical teams can treat patients that have tested positive for COVID-19 (except for patients in our Springfield, Massachusetts, and Ridgewood, New Jersey service areas). We also continue to offer care for a wide array of other illnesses, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), sprains and strains and dehydration.

You can feel confident turning to DispatchHealth for in-home care whether it’s COVID-19 or something else. We’ve taken extra precautions in light of the ongoing pandemic to ensure the safety of our patients and our providers by following strict CDC guidelines. Our medical teams wear surgical masks, eye protection and gloves to each home visit, and for patients with respiratory symptoms they also wear booties and gowns. Providers wipe down kits and their contents before and after each appointment, and disinfect the cars. And we’ve also adjusted our procedures and process for screening patients over the phone. To learn more, visit https://www.dispatchhealth.com/covid-19/.

COVID team at home

Contact DispatchHealth today to request care. You can do so by calling us, using our mobile app, or visiting our website. We look forward to providing you with the in-home care you deserve.

Note: As COVID-19 information is evolving, we’re committed to providing timely updates. Visit dispatchhealth.com/covid-19 for the most up-to-date information.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/index.html
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html
  4. https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/27/845321155/cdc-adds-6-symptoms-to-its-covid-19-list
The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

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