Just tested positive for covid - next steps?
April 18, 2022 3:32 PM   Subscribe

3x vaccinated, first time with covid, and kind of scared - what are the next best steps to take to support a good outcome? Thank you!

I just tested positive for covid using at at home antigen (tested twice, positive both times). I’ve been very conservative up til now, and am… a little distressed.

Would folks mind helping me through figuring out next steps?

The facts
- I am a mid30s cis women; no serious comorbidities
- I currently feel basically okay - like I have a light head cold, with a bit of tightness in my chest (though very realistically that’s anxiety…)
- 3x vaxxed, booster shot at the end of November 2021
- I am very scared of long covid
- I have enough food
- I live with my partner who tested negative, I am isolating in the bedroom with a separate bathroom; they are not planning to leave the house/see people either
- I have good health insurance and am in the US

The Questions
1) should I take a pcr? I am confident in the 2x positive antigen, but is it helpful to have a formal medical record of having covid?
2) should I contact my primary care doctor as an fyi?
3) should I try to get anti virals?
4) should I buy an oxygen monitor?
5) what am I not thinking of that I should or should not be doing?

I feel out of date on the best and safest evidenced based practices - thank you very much for your help!
posted by suviko to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: 1: If you were to get long COVID, having an official record of your COVID diagnosis could help in case you face doctors who question whether it's "really" long COVID or "just" something else and are reluctant to try treatments that could help you. Hopefully you will always have healthcare providers who take you at your word and support you, but you never know, and I know that people with chronic health issues can face a lot of gatekeeping. I'd get a PCR test if I were in your shoes.
posted by rivenwanderer at 3:46 PM on April 18, 2022 [15 favorites]

Also in your shoes I would take a PCR test for the reason rivenwanderer said, and tell my doctor (I'd send a note on My Chart, I wouldn't bother making an appointment) and then just take it easy and wait to get better.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:50 PM on April 18, 2022 [4 favorites]

(If you don't want to go out, the Lucira Check It kit from Amazon might be a good middle ground, it has next-day shipping.)
posted by rivenwanderer at 3:50 PM on April 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

My family has all tested positive for Covid this week (all vaxxed and boosted, partner just got second booster the week before) and here's what we did:

Uploaded the information to our healthcare provider's website. They did not recommend PCR testing, they accepted the antigen results.

Called the County Department of Public Health Covid hotline - they took down our info and did not recommend antivirals at this time, as our symptoms are not severe. They said if we started to feel worse, we should call back. (your dept of public health may vary)

Contacted people we had contact with last week, just so they can be aware.

I'm ordering a batch of antigen tests to be delivered, and may add a pulse oximeter.

Hope you feel better soon!
posted by mogget at 4:11 PM on April 18, 2022 [5 favorites]

Hi COVID Buddy! Fun times. I'm like you - late 30s, 3 shots, no co-morbidities. It's my understanding we are not eligible for antivirals. I have an oxygen monitor I bought on Amazon and it's a comfort, so I'd recommend ordering.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:12 PM on April 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Read this If you’re in the US and interested in paxlovid. The set of risk factors that makes someone eligible covers like 80% of the US adult population, and there is plentiful supply. Paxlovid is extremely effective at reducing the risk of serious acute complications, and likely reduces the amount of time you are sick and may help reduce the risk of long covid.
posted by caek at 4:13 PM on April 18, 2022 [21 favorites]

One thing you can do is please go easy on yourself. My parents, my partner, and I are all triple-vaxed and all four of us got it last week. The newest variant is just really easy to get right now, even if you're vaccinated and careful. I had the worst of it - the other three just had mild cold symptoms, but I was knocked flat in bed with a fever for a couple of days. Recovery was quick, though, and I didn't take anything other than drugstore cold medicine. Hang in there!
posted by theodolite at 4:19 PM on April 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Hello, Covid pal. Mr. Blah and I just went through this. (I'm on day 10 right now since testing positive, he's a couple days ahead of me.) The #1 that helped me was...Tylenol. For the first few days, just made sure I took it at 6-hr intervals, 3x per day. Helped a ton: reduced my fever and aches a whole lot, and that's exactly what I needed. Between that and drinking a lot of liquids, we cruised through. The first 2-3 days were the worst, with symptoms getting a bit better every day after that. You're gonna be okay. Take it very, very easy and give yourself lots of flexibility. Sleep when you want to, get up when you want to. Take a stroll down the block when you need some air. You're gonna make it through okay.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:25 PM on April 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I had covid last week. Here are some things my family did:

Spray saline up your nose a few times a day. I can vouch that brands like Hydrasense and Neilmed are both good, or a neti pot seems even better as it flushes more thorougly.
This is evidence-based and proven to reduce viral load.

Get N95 masks for you and Partner when you're in shared spaces or when you're generating extra aerosols (coughing, singing, exercising) or when Partner is breathing extra deeply and thus could be drawing your aerosols deeper into their lungs (exercising, chores, etc)

Ventilate your room as much as possible with an open window / air filter

Pressurize your room by putting a fan in the hallway outside your room, pointing at the closed door, and cracking your window. This will "overstuff your room" with air so your covid aerosols are always flowing OUT the window, instead of flowing INto the rest of the house.

Note that aerosols build up over time in shared air, so make a point of ventilating as much as possible. For instance, after you use the bathroom, run the fan / open the window / wait for it to air out for half an hour or so, before Partner uses it.

Getting the test is useful in case you continue to test positive after your symtoms resolve. You might test positive for a couple weeks but where I live, 10 days after a positive test, you're considered safe to travel, return to work, and be around others unmasked again. So having that "date stamp" from a PCR test makes that time interval official, in case, for instance, you need to travel in a couple weeks are are still testing positive.

Good luck! Ours wasn't wasn't too bad so I hope yours is similarly mild!
posted by nouvelle-personne at 4:28 PM on April 18, 2022 [4 favorites]

should I buy an oxygen monitor?

You mean a pulse oximeter? Yes. They're handy to have, in general. They measure your pulse rate too, which is useful.

what am I not thinking of that I should or should not be doing?
Rest rest rest, as much as you can. Rest is how your body repairs itself. Even after your symptoms go away, keep resting more than you think you need to, and when resuming activity, take it as easy as possible.

(Source: this excellent comment in a long-COVID fatigue thread)
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:33 PM on April 18, 2022 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I'm sorry! I hope you feel much better soon.

1) should I take a pcr? I am confident in the 2x positive antigen, but is it helpful to have a formal medical record of having covid?

I think yes. Get the PCR in case you need the record. Also so that your local stats are as accurate as possible. If you're feeling up for it.

2) should I contact my primary care doctor as an fyi?

Yes, absolutely.

3) should I try to get anti virals?

If your doctor thinks so, yes!

4) should I buy an oxygen monitor?

Yes. But you should also have a plan for how you are going to not drive yourself crazy with anxiety with it. Ask your doctor about how to read it and how to use it.

5) what am I not thinking of that I should or should not be doing?

Consider keeping a journal. Your symptoms, how you're feeling. Could be helpful for you if you need to speak to a doctor later. Also could be helpful for you to manage your anxiety!

Also there's a great app I've used in the past called "Worry Time". You set some time aside to worry every day. If something pops up and you feel anxious you can ask yourself: Is this an emergency? If no... write it down for worry time and see how you feel when you get there.
posted by pazazygeek at 5:12 PM on April 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

Hi COVID buddy! I tested positive last Tuesday, the day after I got my second booster! What'r'yagonnado? I called my Dr. They said no need for Paxlovid, I'm 66 but in "excellent health." They've contacted Public Health and let them know so no need for a second test. Drink plenty of fluids and treat your symptoms. Tylenol, diphenhydramine, stuff for the common cold. I'm masking as we live in a large 2 bedroom with only one bathroom and partner works from home, she's been sleeping in the other room and is symptom free so far. It's been fine, bad fever and aches the first two days, typical "creeping crud" since then. I still am testing positive a week later, although I've had no fever since last Wednesday. I have no stamina and mild congestion now, but every day I feel better. You will too!
posted by Floydd at 5:34 PM on April 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

I don't have experience with Covid but I have a lot of experience with the healthcare industry and believe me you're going to want an official paper trail of everything. I would think that means some kind of official test; a written acknowledgment from your doctor's office (like an online portal message or an email or something); and tracking your symptoms in an app. Err on the side of everything having a date.

I recently tried like a dozen different symptom trackers in the last few weeks & the only one I liked is called Healthily. It makes it easy to track a lot of different factors & see neat little graphs.
posted by bleep at 5:36 PM on April 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry that you've tested positive and wish you the best. Right now, I am myself waiting on PCR results with fingers crossed.

I think one of the most important aspects of the current covid situation is that there were strains that were coming along that were more and more harmful-- but that trend reversed itself significantly with the omicron variants-- the current family of variants in almost all cases. Omicron tends to be more transmissible, tends to have more upper-respiratory symptoms as opposed to the traditional "cough", has a shorter incubation period, and a shorter window of transmissibility. It also seems to result in a lower rate of serious complications.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 5:47 PM on April 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

I would get the PCR for the paper trail.

We don't have a lot of data, but anecdotally it does appear that dedicating yourself to real actual rest - for weeks - seems to result in better short-term outcomes as far as lingering symptoms/early long COVID. Even if you are currently only mildly symptomatic, get your ass onto the couch and keep it there all week. Unless you will suffer serious hardship, do not work. Sit up but chill out, hydrate, take something to make you sleep at night if you need to. Do puzzles, watch TV, do any of your hobbies that are done seated and quietly, do not court any more stress than you have to.

After symptoms subside you can take a slow 30m walk every day, but no heartrate-elevating exercise until you are well past any lingering symptoms.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:50 PM on April 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Oh another helpful thing is to text Partner every time you take a medication - how much you took, time stamped; and track any important symptoms in those texts as well.

For instance - 11am - fever 38’ - level 7 out of 10 headache, coughing a lot but breathing ok. Took X mL of Tylenol.

Doing this is way easier than trying to remember later, and in case (universe forbid) your symptoms suddenly get worse and you can’t communicate, there’s a record of what drugs you’re on.

In my family the caregivers all send these texts to a shared thread any time a child is ill / taking medication, to ensure we don’t accidentally mix medications or double dose.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 5:52 PM on April 18, 2022 [10 favorites]

I just went through this. The most important thing is to contact your doctor and try to get antivirals or other treatment. I did not need a PCR test for this; my doc took my word for it. A pulse oximeter, a hot pot and tea things, cough drops and tissues were the other things that helped to have in my isolation. Don’t leave isolation until you test negative on an antigen test even if it’s been 5 days.
posted by shadygrove at 8:13 PM on April 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

I got Omicron in January despite being triple vaxxed and mostly very careful.

What I would do differently is take time off work. I just worked through it (from home!) and it probably extended my illness for a few days since my symptoms were mostly mild. I tested positive even 7 days later which was irritating and had a trailing sinus infection for about a month after.

I will say I have rarely been so tired in my life as the 5 weeks starting a couple days before I got the positive.
posted by getawaysticks at 8:37 PM on April 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

I tested positive last week and I have been soooo careful for so long. I was devastated. Reading about others’ experiences have helped me, at least mentally feeling like this was not a failing of me.

I had a virtual appointment with my doctor when I first got my positive test. I didn’t feel too terrible, a sore throat and low fever mostly, so she recommended ibuprofen and bed rest. The next day my symptoms worsened and I had a late night call with her. She prescribed Paxlovid for me as I was still within the 5-days. I’m on day 3 of it and feel much better. But I took the week off of work and am going to seriously rest. I hope you feel better soon!

Also my partner has been testing himself for the past few days and has remained negative. We’ve been very strict on masking, open windows, and quarantining. I do text him my oximeter readings and when I take meds. We do FaceTime each other and watched a show together. It feels like long distance dating again.
posted by inevitability at 8:53 PM on April 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Remember to eat! I’m just getting over a COVID infection and one weird symptom for me was that I had basically zero hunger sensation for a good 5 days or so. This funny thing kept happening where I would be feeling pretty OK, and then over the course of a few hours I would start feeling just awful (nauseous, achy, dizzy, depressed) — and then suddenly I would realize I hadn’t eaten in many hours. As soon as I ate something I would feel better. It’s REALLY HARD to stay on an eating schedule without a natural hunger sensation to clue you in! Having a partner in the house will be really helpful on that front — ask your partner to make sure you eat at least a little bit 3 times a day to keep your blood sugar up.

Also, in case a personal story is reassuring — honestly, COVID sucked. It was worse than I thought it would be as a triple-vaxxed person, and was the sickest I’ve been in several years. BUT at the same time it never got anywhere close to feeling dangerous — I never had shortness of breath or a high fever, and only a mild cough. My worst symptoms were sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, and that general body/mind awfulness that comes with a bad illness. You got this.
posted by mekily at 9:14 PM on April 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

Hi there, hopefully you won’t be too badly affected. Second the oximeter for checking levels and giving you a reminder to freshen the air and take some deep breaths. I’be been harder hit than some of my peers and my top and hard earned lesson is to reiterate previous comments about rest, and then not overestimating how much you could do when you feel a bit better. That will very much set you back. One recent (to me) discovery, is that things I categorised as rest - TV, audiobooks, colouring - could also be too much for me and tire me out. Try to nap as much as you can and get the kind of deep restorative rest that comes from lying doing nothing or sitting in the garden breathing deeply. If, like me, you find that leads to your mind whirring & stressing out about stuff (which is definitely not good for you), I’ve found meditation apps helpful for giving my mind something to focus, regulate my breathing, and get me to sleep.
posted by melisande at 11:15 PM on April 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone! I’ve lurked here for over 15 years, and on one hand can’t believe my first question ever was about covid; on the other hand, the mix of great practical advice and compassion is exactly why I love this place. You all are the best!
posted by suviko at 6:31 AM on April 19, 2022 [12 favorites]

People say to rest, and that's good advice, but I had to quarantine with my rambunctious toddler in a small room for 8 days, and also keep up with work a little in the middle of the night, so I got even less rest than usual, and it was still fine. Obviously, if I had a more serious case, that wouldn't have been great, but I think that the 2022 variants tend to be mild on average. Just in case you need an optimistic view.

Agree you should get a PCR test to have a paper trail, because if you continue to test positive long after recovery -- as my toddler did for 15 days after onset and 13 days after recovery -- you can do things that you would normally be barred from without a negative test.

You don't need an antivirals. Definitely get an oximeter.
posted by redlines at 5:10 PM on April 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

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