Got the sniffles? Get tested for COVID-19

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Like most 15-month-olds in daycare, my daughter has had six colds this year. And every time I have had her tested for COVID-19. Many thought I was being ridiculous. Then one day, after one day of a runny nose, she tested positive. It was a vindication I never wanted. But one I was not completely surprised by.

As a family physician, I have cared for many COVID-19 patients (even as young as 10 months) whose only symptom was a runny nose. In truth, when the CDC listed nasal congestion as a symptom of COVID-19, I was hesitant to test every patient with the sniffles. Doctors are trained to think critically and to judiciously utilize testing resources. But if our case numbers are ever going to go down, we all need to stop fearing the test.

If you develop even one COVID-19 symptom — please do not hesitate. Go get tested, not just for yourself, but for your community. Yes, the COVID-19 symptoms are extensive and common. Most of you are likely to develop a runny nose, cough, fever, chills, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, loss of sense of smell/taste, sore throats, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea at some point by the end of this year.

It is always possible that your symptoms are from those leftovers you ate or the smoke from the fires. But America is relying on you to make sure.

Testing is now widely available and at many places, such as the health center where I work, with no out-of-pocket cost. Testing might not change your treatment but it can prevent you from unknowingly infecting someone else — someone who unfortunately could become much sicker than you.

Testing is one way to protect your loved ones and neighbors. But wearing your mask is just as important. My husband and I tried our best to avoid COVID-19 — we socially distanced and wore masks as much as possible. So far, we have both tested negative. But infection does seem inevitable considering my baby loves sneaking up on me with affectionate “dinosaur” kisses.

My baby could not wear a mask. I am incredibly grateful that she is doing well, and hopefully, thanks to early detection, we prevented her from spreading it to our friends and family.

I am proud to fight on the frontlines against COVID-19. Please help me in this fight and wear a mask, socially distance and get tested without hesitation. Front-line workers, babies, and the most vulnerable are counting on you.

Dr. Stephanie Sandhu is a family medicine physician and the associate director of Clinical Quality and Clinical Risk Mitigation at Stride Community Health Center. She is a member of the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians and a 2014 National Pisacano Scholar.

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