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Practicing Medicine COVID-19 Prevention & Treatment Patient Education

Patient Education

Tools to guide patients

It is important to discuss COVID-19 symptoms with patients so they can identify and know when to take necessary actionable steps to reduce transmission to others.

COVID-19 symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever or chills

Emergency COVID-19 warning signs and symptoms to discuss with patients

  • Difficulty waking or staying asleep
  • Discoloration of lips, nailbeds or skin (dependent on skin tone)
  • New confusion
  • Persistent pain or discomfort in the chest
  • Difficulty breathing without exertion

Transmission reduction tips to communicate with patients to enhance safety to others

  • Perform frequent handwashing with or without adjunct antiseptics.
  • Use protective barrier measures such as masks that cover a patient’s nose and mouth.
  • Suggest patients isolate themselves from others upon infection suspicion.
  • Encourage patients to get tested immediately if they develop any symptoms after exposure to COVID-19.
  • Advise patients to consider re-testing if they initially tested negative after exposure.
  • If a patient tests positive for COVID-19, advise them to stay at home for five days and wear a mask if they live with others.
  • Recommend improving air quality where patients live and work by opening windows, providing better ventilation and using an adequate filtration system. Encourage patients to spend time outdoors.

Important information to relay to patients

  • If a patient has COVID-19 and is at risk for complications, treatments are available to reduce the chances of hospitalization and death.
  • Medications are available that can decrease the severity of symptoms and aid in illness management.
  • Don’t delay receiving treatment; timing is essential for treatment effectiveness.
  • COVID-19 medications are available through your physicians, health clinics and local pharmacies. Find where COVID-19 medications are available by using the ASPR medication map.

It is important to emphasize to patients that one of the best ways to prevent COVID-19 infection is to get vaccinated. Visit the Facts on Vax web pages throughout to obtain information on how to talk with patients on the importance of vaccinations. In most cases, side effects from the vaccine are rare. Below is a list of possible side effects to discuss with patients.

Common Vaccine Side Effects


At the injection site

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness

Throughout the rest of the body

  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

Infants and children (6 months to 3 years)

  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability or crying
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sleepiness
  • Pain at the injection site

Children (4 to 17 years)

*Side effects are more common after receipt of the second dose.

  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Patient Resources


References and Articles


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  1. Amani B, Amani B. Efficacy and safety of nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid) for COVID-19: A rapid review and meta-analysis. J Med Virol. 2023 Feb;95(2):e28441. doi: 10.1002/jmv.28441. PMID: 36576379; PMCID: PMC9880713. Efficacy and safety of nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid) for COVID-19: A rapid review and meta-analysis
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  3. Cao Z, Gao W, Bao H, Feng H, Mei S, Chen P, Gao Y, Cui Z, Zhang Q, Meng X, Gui H, Wang W, Jiang Y, Song Z, Shi Y, Sun J, Zhang Y, Xie Q, Xu Y, Ning G, Gao Y, Zhao R. VV116 versus Nirmatrelvir-Ritonavir for Oral Treatment of Covid-19. N Engl J Med. 2023 Feb 2;388(5):406-417. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2208822. Epub 2022 Dec 28. PMID: 36577095; PMCID: PMC9812289.
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  6. Nyirenda JL, Sofroniou M, Toews I, Mikolajewska A, Lehane C, Monsef I, Abu-Taha A, Maun A, Stegemann M, Schmucker C. Fluvoxamine for the treatment of COVID-19. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2022 Sep 14;9(9):CD015391. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD015391. PMID: 36103313; PMCID: PMC9473347.
  7. Davidson M, Menon S, Chaimani A, Evrenoglou T, Ghosn L, Graña C, Henschke N, Cogo E, Villanueva G, Ferrand G, Riveros C, Bonnet H, Kapp P, Moran C, Devane D, Meerpohl JJ, Rada G, Hróbjartsson A, Grasselli G, Tovey D, Ravaud P, Boutron I. Interleukin-1 blocking agents for treating COVID-19. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2022 Jan 26;1(1):CD015308. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD015308. PMID: 35080773; PMCID: PMC8791232.
  8. Popp M, Stegemann M, Riemer M, Metzendorf MI, Romero CS, Mikolajewska A, Kranke P, Meybohm P, Skoetz N, Weibel S. Antibiotics for the treatment of COVID-19. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2021 Oct 22;10(10):CD015025. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD015025. PMID: 34679203; PMCID: PMC8536098.
  9. Mikolajewska A, Fischer AL, Piechotta V, Mueller A, Metzendorf MI, Becker M, Dorando E, Pacheco RL, Martimbianco ALC, Riera R, Skoetz N, Stegemann M. Colchicine for the treatment of COVID-19. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2021 Oct 18;10(10):CD015045. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD015045. PMID: 34658014; PMCID: PMC8521385.
  10. Andreas M, Piechotta V, Skoetz N, Grummich K, Becker M, Joos L, Becker G, Meissner W, Boehlke C. Interventions for palliative symptom control in COVID-19 patients. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2021 Aug 23;8(8):CD015061. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD015061. PMID: 34425019; PMCID: PMC8406995.
  11. Stroehlein JK, Wallqvist J, Iannizzi C, Mikolajewska A, Metzendorf MI, Benstoem C, Meybohm P, Becker M, Skoetz N, Stegemann M, Piechotta V. Vitamin D supplementation for the treatment of COVID-19: a living systematic review. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2021 May 24;5(5):CD015043. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD015043. PMID: 34029377; PMCID: PMC8406457.



  1. Reis S, Metzendorf MI, Kuehn R, Popp M, Gagyor I, Kranke P, Meybohm P, Skoetz N, Weibel S. Nirmatrelvir combined with ritonavir for preventing and treating COVID-19. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2022 Sep 20;9(9):CD015395. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD015395.pub2. PMID: 36126225; PMCID: PMC9487421.
  2. Hirsch C, Park YS, Piechotta V, Chai KL, Estcourt LJ, Monsef I, Salomon S, Wood EM, So-Osman C, McQuilten Z, Spinner CD, Malin JJ, Stegemann M, Skoetz N, Kreuzberger N. . SARS-CoV-2-neutralising monoclonal antibodies to prevent COVID-19. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2022 Jun 17;6(6):CD014945. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD014945.pub2. PMID: 35713300; PMCID: PMC9205158.
  3. Jefferson T, Del Mar CB, Dooley L, Ferroni E, Al-Ansary LA, Bawazeer GA, van Driel ML, Nair S, Jones MA, Thorning S, Conly JM. Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Jul 6;2011(7):CD006207. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006207.pub4. Update in: Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020 Nov 20;11:CD006207. PMID: 21735402; PMCID:PMC6993921.
  4. Pizarro AB, Persad E, Durao S, Nussbaumer-Streit B, Engela-Volker JS, McElvenny D, Rhodes S, Stocking K, Fletcher T, Martin C, Noertjojo K, Sampson O, Verbeek JH, Jørgensen KJ, Bruschettini M. Workplace interventions to reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection outside of healthcare settings. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2022 May 6;5(5):CD015112. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD015112.pub2. PMID: 35514111; PMCID: PMC9073086.
  5. Stratil JM, Biallas RL, Burns J, Arnold L, Geffert K, Kunzler AM, Monsef I, Stadelmaier J, Wabnitz K, Litwin T, Kreutz C, Boger AH, Lindner S, Verboom B, Voss S, Movsisyan A. Non-pharmacological measures implemented in the setting of long-term care facilities to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infections and their consequences: a rapid review. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2021 Sep 15;9(9):CD015085. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD015085.pub2. PMID: 34523727; PMCID: PMC8442144.
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  7. Ashour NA, Abo Elmaaty A, Sarhan AA, Elkaeed EB, Moussa AM, Erfan IA, Al-Karmalawy AA. A Systematic Review of the Global Intervention for SARS-CoV-2 Combating: From Drugs Repurposing to Molnupiravir Approval. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2022 Mar 15;16:685-715. doi: 10.2147/DDDT.S354841. PMID: 35321497; PMCID: PMC8935998.
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