How Bad Do Coronavirus Symptoms Need To Get Before Seeking Help?

Most cases call for self-isolation, hydration and rest, but it's best to know the signs that call for medical assistance.

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A new, continuous cough and fever are the two key symptoms to be vigilant of when it comes to coronavirus. Most people with these symptoms will simply need to self-isolate for seven or 14 days (depending on whether they live on their own or with others) and will recover without needing extra help.

But for an estimated one in five people, hospital care will be necessary.

As it stands, people are urged to stay home and keep away from GP surgeries and hospitals if they come down with Covid-19 symptoms in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus between people and households.

But if they feel they cannot cope with their symptoms at home or their condition gets worse, they’re urged to use the NHS 111 online service. Or, for those who don’t have internet, to call the helpline on 111.

The issue is, different people have different thresholds when it comes to what actually constitutes feeling unwell. So when should you seek help?

Dr Claudia Pastides, a GP working with online private doctor app Babylon, reiterates that most people will experience mild or moderate symptoms that can be managed at home by getting rest, keeping hydrated and taking paracetamol where necessary.

Some people might need to seek help through NHS 111, however.

Examples of symptoms which warrant this medical advice, says Dr Pastides, include increasing shortness of breath – struggling to do normal things without feeling breathless, for example – or feeling so ill that you can’t carry out your usual daily activities like having a shower, watching TV or preparing a meal.

There may also be more urgent cases, you should call 999 for an ambulance and let them know that you – or the person you’re caring for – may have coronavirus, says Dr Pastides. Such situations include: someone feeling so breathless they can’t speak more than a few words at a time, developing blue lips or skin, or losing consciousness.

Symptoms of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which can occur in serious cases of Covid-19, include:

• Severe shortness of breath;

• Rapid, shallow breathing;

• Tiredness, drowsiness or confusion;

• Feeling faint.

Anyone who thinks they’ve been fighting coronavirus and has ended up with symptoms of ARDS should also call an ambulance.

Ultimately, if you’re worried about any symptoms and they’re becoming worse, not better, don’t be afraid to seek help.