What To Do When You've Been Exposed to Covid-19
It’s nobody’s favorite text message or phone call or conversation. When someone you have recently spent time with lets you know that they’ve just tested positive for Covid-19.
Not only do we worry for the person who has just tested positive, but we can’t help but wonder, am I next? That question can create a rush of feelings, of concern, worry, and even panic. Sometimes these feelings can be strong enough to mimic symptoms of illness.
There are a few things we probably all know by now about Covid-19. One is that, if we get infected, the virus takes time to incubate before symptoms start to appear.
Recent large-scale reviews of patient information by the CDC show that 97% of people begin to show symptoms within 11 days of exposure, and the average incubation time is 4-5 days.
So we have some solid data on when symptoms might start to appear, and we know that if we reach 11 days from exposure without showing symptoms, we are unlikely to have caught the virus.
The question is, if we know we’ve been exposed, what can we do from day 1-10?
Can we improve our chances of having a mild illness?
Can we help our body prepare for a possible infection?
Can we strengthen our mind and mental approach to get ready to fight the virus off?
As the famous song lyric goes, “the waiting is the hardest part.” But there are things you can do while that incubation clock is ticking! Here are simple steps that can lessen your worry and prepare your body.
First things first, you need to self quarantine if you know you’ve been exposed. Covid-19 can be contagious to others before symptoms start to appear. If you can, wear a mask indoors even around family, and isolate in a room of your house if possible.
Focus on Your Micronutrients
If you haven’t been following “Protocol K” to help strengthen your immune system, it might be a good idea to start as soon as you learn that you’ve been exposed.
Here is a breakdown of “Protocol K” from Dr. Karen Koffler, Medical Director at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Miami.
Commit to Better, Earlier Sleep
We’ve long known that better sleep is essential to repairing our body, and preparing to fight off illnesses like Covid-19. And thanks to scientific research we now know that the times we sleep are important as well.
One study followed nurses over a period of 22 years and found that those who worked night shifts and went to bed at irregular hours were far more likely to die early, especially from cardiovascular problems.
It’s a good idea to follow that old saying, “One hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours of sleep after midnight”. Commit to earlier sleep patterns, and commit to getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
If the resources exist in your area, it’s very important to know if you have actually contracted the virus after a possible exposure.
This is especially true before you leave self-quarantine. Many people don’t feel symptoms but can still carry the virus and transmit it to others. The CDC recommends a full 14 day quarantine if you can’t get tested, but allows for a 7 day quarantine if you get tested at or after day 5 from exposure. This might be especially important for people who need to return to work faster.
If you can, try to get tested after 5 days from exposure, as the CDC recommends.
Commit to Resilience
Finally, let’s talk about the mental approach when we know we’ve been exposed to the virus. Let’s talk about resilience - the ability to adapt positively to adversity.
While we don’t have specific data on mental resilience in regards to Covid-19 survival and hospitalization rates, we do know that resiliency is a scientifically studied key to living longer.
As the days go by and the clock ticks on our virus exposure, it can be helpful to make a few key decisions to reinforce your resiliency.
Resiliency differs for everyone, but here are a few mental commitments that have helped many of us here at Santo Remedio.
Decide that, if you get sick, you are going to take the time you need to get healthy.
Decide that, right now, you are going to commit to healthier sleep and eating habits.
Decide that, if you get sick, you are going to get better.
You might be surprised at how powerful it feels to take your worry about Covid-19 exposure and turn it into a determination to fight and heal. You can do this. We believe in you.
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