With the emergence of COVID-19, it’s not surprising people are keeping closer tabs on their body temperature.
Fever is one of several common COVID-19 symptoms, including cough, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. As a result, the demand for thermometers has spiked during the pandemic.
Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health, says keeping an eye on your temperature and the temperature of your loved ones can help identify a potential infection.
“It’s important to remember not all people with COVID-19 will develop a fever, and just because you have a fever doesn’t mean you necessarily have the illness,” Dr. Harmon says. “However, a fever is cause for concern because it’s a sign your body is trying to ward off an infection.”
The ‘Safe in Our Care’ commitment
Tidelands Health has implemented extra precautions to keep you safe while you get the medical care you need. Learn more about the health system’s “Safe in Our Care” commitment by clicking here.
If you think you’ve had close contact with someone infected with COVID-19 but otherwise feel healthy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking your temperature twice per day, staying home for 14 days after your last exposure and watching for other symptoms of COVID-19. Make sure to avoid people who are at high risk of developing serious complications, including older adults and individuals of any age with serious underlying health conditions.
When it comes to taking your temperature, Dr. Harmon says there are many types of thermometers on the market, and there’s no need to spend a lot of money on one. But it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
If your local grocery store or pharmacy is out of stock, be sure to check online where they are readily available online.
If you develop a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 and are concerned you might have the disease, use the no-cost MUSC Health virtual screening tool at muschealth.org, or call your primary care provider for instructions on what to do next. If you do not have a primary care provider, call 1-866-TIDELANDS, and Tidelands Health will help you find one.
Although most people can recover at home from COVID-19 without medical care, some people develop serious complications.
“If you begin to experience emergency symptoms, such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in your chest, new confusion, an inability to wake or stay awake or bluish lips or face, call 911 immediately,” Dr. Harmon says. “Don’t take any chances.”
The best way to avoid becoming ill is to avoid exposure to the virus, Dr. Harmon says. He encourages people to follow the CDC’s guidelines to limit its spread.
- Make sure to regularly wash your hands with soap and water, or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Follow social distancing guidelines by staying at least six feet away from others. Avoid large gatherings.
- Wear a cloth face covering in places where social distancing is difficult. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
- If you aren’t wearing your cloth face covering, cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or use the inside of your elbow. Throw away the tissue, and wash your hands immediately afterward.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
Dr. Gerald Harmon
Vice President of Medical Affairs and Family Medicine Physician
Dr. Gerald Harmon, who has cared for patients in our region for more than 35 years, is a family medicine physician and vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health.Learn More
Medical University of South Carolina
U.S. Air Force Regional Hospital
American Board of Family Medicine
Meet the Expert
Dr. Gerald Harmon
Dr. Gerald Harmon, who has cared for patients in our region for more than 35 years, is a family medicine physician and vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health.