Symptoms and Care

Respiratory symptoms for COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses can range from:

  • Non-urgent symptoms and you don’t have any underlying health risk factors are mild symptoms that are typically well handled without a health care visit
  • Non-urgent symptoms but have underlying health risk factors may be mild but because of underlying health concerns, you should seek care
  • Urgent symptoms are mild-to-moderate symptoms that require you to seek a visit with a health care provider
  • Emergent symptoms are severe symptoms that require emergency care in a quick timeframe

What risk factors put me at risk for serious illness?

  • 65 years old and above
  • Lung disease
  • Cancer
  • Heart failure
  • History of stroke
  • Kidney Disease
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • Receiving dialysis
  • Pregnant
  • Immunocompromised
    • Conditions that cause you to be immunocompromised include: chemotherapy, organ transplant, sickle cell disease, HIV, chronic steroids, etc.  If you are unsure if you are immunocompromised, please call your clinic to speak to a nurse.  

Non-urgent Symptoms

  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Coughing phlegm (clear)
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle pain
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Runny nose
  • Vomiting

What action you should take:

Individuals with a UW Health Primary Care Provider (PCP)

If you currently have a UW Health PCP and are between the ages of 5-69, take the COVID-19 self-assessment available in MyChart. To access the self-assessment:

  • Log in to your MyChart account
  • Under “Your Menu” select Covid-19
  • Select “Start a new COVID-19 self-assessment” and answer the questions

Based on your answers, a UW Health nurse will provide guidance for what your next steps should be.

Individuals who do not have a UW Health Primary Care Provider

Get a COVID-19 test if you are able

If you are not able to get a COVID-19 test due to wait time, you should assume you have COVID-19 and follow the CDC Quarantine & Isolation guidelines.

If you are able to be tested, please follow the CDC Quarantine & Isolation guidelines until you receive your results.

Non-urgent Symptoms but Have Health Risk Factors

  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Coughing phlegm (clear)
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle pain
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Runny nose
  • Vomiting

What action should you take:

  • Call your clinic to speak directly to a nurse
  • Schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider (a video visit is appropriate)
  • If it is after clinic hours, visit an Urgent Care site

Urgent Symptoms

  • Mild weakness/dizziness
  • Feel dehydrated/difficulty eating or drinking
  • Moderate to severe productive cough
  • Coughing up colored mucous
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fever greater than 103° F (39.4°C)
  • Fever greater than 101° F (38.3°C) and age 65 & older
  • Pulse oximeter reading between 93% and 94%

What action should you take:

  • Call your clinic now to speak directly to a nurse
  • Schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider within 12 hours
  • If after clinic hours, visit an Urgent Care site

Emergent Symptoms

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
  • New confusion
  • Blue/gray lips, skin and/or nail beds
  • Fever greater than 104° F (40°C)
  • Extreme fatigue/weakness
  • Severe dizziness
  • New Rapid/irregular heart rate
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pulse oximeter reading less than 93%
  • Clammy/sweaty skin (in addition to one or more other symptoms on this list)

What action should you take:

Please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.

Do NOT drive yourself to the emergency department. Please get a ride from a family member or friend.

What can you do at home to help with your symptoms?

  • Get plenty of rest; sleep when you are tired
  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated (at least 8 cups of fluid daily for adults). If you have fluid restriction, please contact your healthcare provider for instructions.
  • Move/walk (maintaining physical distancing) even if for short distances to keep your body moving
  • Take deep breaths at least every hour while awake (Breathe in through your nose deeply, hold for 5 seconds and exhale through your nose). Do this 5 times in a row. Do deep breathing in room where you are isolated from others.
  • You can take acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) if over 6 months old, or naproxen (Aleve) if over age of 12 if you need to relieve a fever and body aches. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Talk to a pharmacist.
  • Adults can take over the counter “common cold” remedies. Talk to a pharmacist.
  • If you have any high-risk medical condition listed above, please contact your healthcare provider for homecare instructions and approved over the counter medications that are safe for you.