Ask A Doctor: How Effective Are Homemade Masks, And Other Questions Answered

A UT Health San Antonio physician answers listeners’ questions about their health during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Michael MarksApril 17, 2020 7:27 am,

In this week’s installment of Ask a Doctor, UT Health San Antonio physician Fred Campbell answers Texas Standard listeners’ most pressing questions about the coronavirus.

When it comes to treatment for COVID-19, what are the options for people who have tested positive but have only mild or moderate symptoms?

Pain relievers like Tylenol or ibuprofen can help with the fever and body aches. But Campbell says check with your doctor first if you have other health conditions like kidney disease that might require a different approach.

Are blood donors being tested for the disease before they donate?

There is no screening for COVID-19 during blood donations, but blood banks are taking donors’ temperatures as a precaution. Also, before any donated blood is used in a patient, hospitals test it for safety.

How effective are homemade cloth face masks?

Masks do help prevent the transmission of the coronavirus through a cough or sneeze, especially if they’re made of a thicker material like denim. But Campbell says they’re not a silver bullet; they’re most effective when combined with other preventive behaviors like social distancing and hand-washing.

How long does it take health officials to process a COVID-19 test?

Currently, tests take about 24 hours to process, and are reliable. But eventually, Campbell expects there will be tests that take mere minutes to process and will be widely available.

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