San Antonio doctors explain what COVID-19 symptoms to look for before going to a hospital


SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio doctors say they’re getting many calls from patients with mild symptoms following a positive COVID-19 test result. They say, for the most part, those who were vaccinated won’t have many issues unless they’re at high risk. Here’s what they recommend people do if they test positive.

Dr. Saleh Jafaar, with MedCare Associates, says the best thing to do is call your doctor as soon as you get a COVID-19 positive result to make sure you know when you need to seek emergency care at a hospital. For the most part, he says, those who were vaccinated will not experience many issues.

“If it’s really mild symptoms, we don’t do anything. Ask them to take Tylenol, keep hydrated, get as much rest as they can and follow up in a day or two,” he says. But his concern changes if the patient has difficulty breathing.

Dr. Ruth Berggren, an infectious disease expert with UT Health San Antonio, says the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council has come up with a list of best practices guidelines for doctors in the region to follow concerning outpatient management of the virus.

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The first recommendation is to isolate from outside and even within the home. Use a separate bathroom, and don’t eat together with other house members.

Berggren also recommends using a pulse oximeter to ensure the patient’s oxygen saturation stays over 94%.

Second, those who have one of a list of high-risk factors — like those who are pregnant, have diabetes or are over 65 years old, need to talk to their doctor to get a prescription for monoclonal antibodies therapy.

“The people who benefit from this infusion are the people who get it within the first five days,” Berggren said.

The infusion is free at the Freeman Coliseum and has emergency use authorization by the FDA.

“This can significantly reduce your progression of COVID-19, and therefore greatly reduce your risk of having to go to the ER and get sicker,” Berggren said.

She also warned health care providers about the overuse of steroids to treat patients too early in the COVID-19 diagnosis. She says the wrong timing in using these immunosuppressant drugs could hurt the body’s response to fighting the virus on its own.

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“Instead of leaving the doctor’s office with a steroid, you should leave the visit with a referral for a monoclonal antibody infusion,” Berggren said.

While there was a lot of talk about using supplements to combat the virus early on in the pandemic, Berggren says there’s not enough evidence to show that yet. But she says the use of zinc lozenges, Vitamin D and melatonin before you contract the virus might help your body’s ability to be ready to fight it.

Berggren also encourages those with mild COVID-19 symptoms to consider taking part in clinical trials to help figure out how to best treat the virus. One of those trials involves taking a certain depression medication.

“People who take the fluvoxamine are less likely than people who are on placebo to need to go to the hospital with COVID-19,” she said. “It’s not for advance COVID-19. It has not been used in the hospital and should be used in the setting of a clinical trial.”

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