We’ve entered virus season in the United States with the return of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and continued circulation of the virus that causes COVID-19. You’ve likely heard in the news that some hospitals are overrun with patients experiencing severe illness from these viruses. The American Lung Association provides you with the information you need to know to help protect yourself and others from severe illness from COVID-19 this virus season.
Get Tested if You’re Experiencing Symptoms
Because infectious respiratory viruses often present with similar symptoms, it is important to get tested right away if you begin experiencing symptoms that could be COVID-19. Why right away?
- Testing determines what virus you have
- Testing helps determine appropriate treatments options
- Testing allows you to get treatment right away because treatments for COVID-19 must be taken within days of symptom onset to be effective
Learn about additional times you may want to get tested for COVID-19 and the different tests available on our website.
If you test positive, isolate and mask to protect others from getting infected.
Understand Your Risk for Severe COVID-19 Disease
If you test positive for COVID-19 and have mild to moderate symptoms, knowing your risk for progression to severe disease is an important self-advocacy tool when you seek treatment. Some high-risk factors/conditions include:
- Age—older adults (50+)
- Being immunocompromised
- Smoking, current or former
- Having underlying medical conditions such as chronic lung disease, diabetes, heart conditions, chronic kidney disease and cancer
Talk to Your Healthcare Provider About Treatment
If you are at increased risk for progression to severe COVID-19 illness, there are treatment options available. Talk to your healthcare provider right away because you should start taking the medication prescribed to you as soon as possible after you experience symptoms. Your healthcare provider will help determine whether you are a candidate for treatment and the right treatment option for you.
Current Outpatient Treatment Options Available for COVID-19 (as of 12/1/22)
|Treatment||Types of treatment||Start time after symptoms onset||Age indication|
|Paxlovid||Antiviral pills||As soon as possible and within 5 days||12+|
|Lagevrio (molnupiravir)||Antiviral pills||As soon as possible and within 5 days||18+|
|Veklury (remdesivir)||Antiviral IV infusion||As soon as possible and within 7 days||28 days or older|
Antiviral medications stop the virus that causes COVID-19 from making copies of itself in your body.
Treatments are available with a prescription from a healthcare provider. Some treatment options are available at Test to Treat locations or through a state-licensed pharmacist as well.
Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Provider About Treatment Options for COVID-19
Knowing your health status and medications you’re currently taking will help your healthcare provider determine the appropriate treatment options for you.
- Will treatment interact with medications I’m currently taking?
- Will treatment impact my medical condition?
- I am pregnant or breast feeding, is this treatment appropriate for me?
Making sure you are up-to-date on your vaccinations is the single most important thing you can do to help prevent severe illness from infectious respiratory diseases such as COVID-19. If you are eligible for the updated COVID-19 booster, the American Lung Association recommends you talk to your healthcare provider about receiving one.
Approved by HCP
Blog last updated: August 25, 2023