Coronavirus: When To Go to the Hospital and When To Stay Home

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Not everyone who gets coronavirus has to go to the hospital. In fact, the WHO reports the majority of people who do catch coronavirus only suffer from mild sickness or don’t show symptoms at all.

On the other hand, coronavirus can be very serious for some people, and even fatal for a few. That’s why it’s a good idea to talk to a medical professional online if you are displaying any coronavirus symptoms — to plot your next course of action.

Let’s go over a list of the factors you and your healthcare professional need to go over in order to determine if you need to go to the hospital for your case of coronavirus or just stay home instead.

In This Article:

  1. Hospitalization-Level Coronavirus Symptoms
    1. What To Do Before Going to the Hospital
    2. What to Expect in the Hospital
  2. Stay-at-Home Coronavirus Symptoms
  3. What To Do at Home If You Have Coronavirus

Hospitalization-Level Coronavirus Symptoms

Cases of coronavirus serious enough to require hospitalization are actually fairly rare. The CDC reports that, in March, only about 1.5% of the 100,000 or so people that tested positive for coronavirus were hospitalized for it. Even 1.5% is a big number, though, when discussing something this serious — the coronavirus death count in the US is jumping up at a rate of over 2,000 fatalities per day at the time of this publication.

There are certain symptoms linked to coronavirus that are major red flags. If you notice them, you should get in touch with a medical professional immediately. These “RED ALERT” symptoms include:

  • Trouble breathing — if you find yourself running out of breath in the middle of your sentences or otherwise experiencing breathing difficulties
  • Lower chest pain — if you’re experiencing an aching under your breastbone, where your lungs are located
  • Bluish lips or face — if your lips of face are taking on a bluish tint, that means your body does not have enough oxygen. And that means your lungs are seriously affected.
  • Cognitive difficulties — if you’re undergoing significant cognitive changes, such as uncharacteristic mood swings or episodes of confusion, that can actually be a serious sign of coronavirus. This is one others will probably notice before you do.

To ensure you see someone about these urgent symptoms as quickly as possible, we recommend you contact a registered medical professional via online means such as Stream MD’s platform. Most actual hospitals are extremely busy these days and are turning people away unless a doctor has already given them a hospitalization order.

What to Do Before Going to the Hospital

Coronavirus: When To Go to the Hospital and When To Stay Home

To ensure you receive the best care possible, take these steps before going to the hospital:

  • Have your referral ready — hospitals are going to ask for your referral papers (or digital files) as soon as you walk in the door. If you don’t have them ready to go, you may not be admitted.
  • Put on a mask — Make sure you’re wearing a facemask, or another face covering that blocks your mouth and nose. This is for your safety- so you don’t breathe in any more coronavirus particles — and the safety of others — so you don’t spread viral particles elsewhere if you sneeze or cough.
  • Call ahead — Even if you’re completely prepared to go into treatment, it helps busy hospitals if you call ahead and let them know you’re on your way. You might be made to wait a short time after arriving if you don’t do this step, and that time could be critical.

What to Expect in the Hospital

Coronavirus: When To Go to the Hospital and When To Stay Home

First of all, know that even hospitalized coronavirus patients hardly ever die — only about 1 out of 143 do. The reason is because hospitals are good at their jobs. Speaking of which, you can expect:

  • Respiratory support — the main danger posed by serious coronavirus cases is a lack of oxygen supply. Hospitals use equipment like ventilators and breathing tubes to make sure you get the oxygen you need even if your body cannot supply it.
  • Minimized risk for complication — medical care professionals know exactly what coronavirus patients need to compensate for the things their body needs. They will make sure you consume all of it without engaging in harmful activities.
  • Constant monitoring — in the hospital, patients will never be left unmonitored, which means their chance of having preventable episodes is next to nonexistent. For example, a patient at home who stops breathing might have permanent problems if they don’t receive help within minutes. At a hospital, a patient who stops breathing will immediately be given a breathing tube to prevent any such thing.
  • Knowledge of when things are turning around — since hospitals x-ray and otherwise monitor their patients’ conditions every day, those admitted will be told as soon as possible when their case is on the upswing. They will be supplied with advice and medicine to aid in full recovery before being sent home.

Stay-at-Home Coronavirus Symptoms

Coronavirus: When To Go to the Hospital and When To Stay Home

As we said, the vast majority of coronavirus cases are mild and do not require hospitalization. If a healthcare professional tells you to recover from home, you should do so. 

Symptoms common for coronavirus carriers that do not usually call for hospitalization (unless paired with the “RED ALERT” symptoms described above) include:

  • Persistent but mild cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Stomachache
  • Partial loss of taste and/or smell
  • Diarrhea

Again, you should consult a doctor, preferably though an online platform, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. But know that they rarely require hospitalization, Even if you end up testing positive for coronavirus.

What to Do at Home If You Have Coronavirus

Coronavirus: When To Go to the Hospital and When To Stay Home

If you test positive for coronavirus but a medical professional told you it’s alright to stay home, you should take these safety measures recommended by the CDC:

  • Rest — Make sure to get a good 8-9 hours of sleep per night. This keeps your body strong.
  • Hydrate — Drink at least half a gallon of water, equal to eight 8-ounce glasses, throughout the day.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise — short walks are a great idea, but don’t play sports or lift weights.
  • Avoid public transport — this includes busses and taxis.
  • Wear a mask — even at home, wear a mask or other face covering when you’re around others. You don’t need to wear it when you’re alone. And don’t buy medical-grade masks; they’re reserved for healthcare workers.
  • Wash your hands — develop a habit of washing them thoroughly every 30 minutes or before handling food.
  • Monitor your symptoms — make sure you talk to a medical professional online again if you ever start to display the “RED ALERT” symptoms discussed in the first part of this post.

The coronavirus is made out to be a lot more dangerous than it actually is. Still, there is the possibility an infection can lead to very serious health consequences if not dealt with correctly. So, if you are displaying any symptoms, contact a healthcare professional and see what your next step is.


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