DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – There’s no denying that COVID cases are surging. Hospital admissions are spiking and you may even know someone who has caught the virus, some for the second time. While most people are familiar with the symptoms they should be looking out for, the best course of action for what to do after testing positive may not be as commonly known.
Dr. Joseph Allen, regional medical director with Premier Health, said COVID-19 symptoms do alter the body’s typical function, but one of the best ways to stay healthy is to remain active.
“As long as you don’t have issues otherwise that would keep you bedridden, don’t stay in bed,” said Allen. “Get up and move around. It may not be going to the gym, but get up and walk. Get up and move through the house. Do your normal, daily stuff as much as you can. And just like any other exercise routine, you want to step it up a little bit at a time.”
Continuing to move, he said, will not only help your body maintain its normal tolerance for activity, but can also help prevent further medical complications.
“Everyday you spend in bed, it actually does kind of diminish your stamina going forward, right? So your recovery time gets longer the longer you spend in bed, ” he said. “Other things that can happen though – by laying in bed and not getting up and moving around – you’re not using your entire volume of your lungs. So there’s parts of your lungs that are at diminished capacity anyway and those parts will sit there and not have a lot of good air movement.”
That lack of movement can contribute to a number of problems that occur in addition to COVID itself. The first is called atelectasis.
“If you think of the lung kind of like a sponge, it’s where the sponge gets compressed a little bit,” said Allen. “That can cause things like mild fever – not really truly an infection, but it can cause you to be a little uncomfortable and certainly requires a little more effort to kind of open those things up when you do get moving again.”
That lack of movement can also contribute to a higher risk of infection.
“You are looking at being a little higher risk for any kind of lung infection. So the more you’re moving, it’s just better for you. Get up and move around as early as you can. Even little steps are good things to take early on in this, just don’t overdo it.”
To gauge how much activity you should take on, Allen said it’s important to listen to your body, working to get back on track with your physical fitness level from before you tested positive for COVID, instead of pushing your body too far, too fast.
In addition to remaining active, staying hydrated and paying special attention to pre-existing and chronic illnesses will help with a more efficient recovery.
“We [tend to] focus so much on COVID that you forget about the other things that are going on, [like] controlling those chronic illnesses. So if you have diabetes for instance, make sure you’re staying on top of that. Sometimes, what I’ve seen is some patients that have had COVID and it allows them to kind of reassess and refocus. So maybe they didn’t take as good of care of themselves before, but now, it comes a little bit more to the front of their mind and they start to watch those a little closer.”
Following a healthy sleep schedule, he said will also be critical for the body’s recovery, which involves getting about seven to eight hours each night. If symptoms persist or remain stagnant beyond the three to four week mark after they first appear, Dr. Allen said you may want to reach out to a medical professional regarding how best to get back on track with physical health and fitness.