Public Health

How To Manage Coronavirus COVID-19 Symptoms At Home

Khang T. Vuong, MHA20 Dec 2020

How To Manage Coronavirus COVID-19 Symptoms At Home

As of November 20th, 2020, COVID-19 testing is widely available. Some clinics do have specific requirements in order to get tested, please check with your healthcare provider. 

There are several COVID-19 tests available, PCR, rapid, and antibody testing

If your symptoms do not require medical attention, your healthcare provider may suggest you manage your symptoms at home.

Should I go to the hospital for COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization guideline published March 17, 2020, for those with mild clinical presentation, hospitalization may not be needed due to the burden created for the local healthcare system.

In any of these situations, patients with mild symptoms and without underlying chronic conditions such as lung or heart disease, renal failure, or immunocompromising conditions that place the patient at increased risk of developing complications may be cared for at home.

What should I do at home if I may have Coronavirus COVID-19?

First, are you living with someone that has a higher risk for health complications (>60, managing chronic disease, health workers)? If the answer is yes, isolating, or removing yourself entirely from the living space should be the first step. Though this could be difficult for family members, it is necessary to prevent unwanted consequences.

Stay home, unless symptoms become severe. With or without testing, if you have symptoms and suspect you do, assume you are positive for COVID-19. Stay within your living vicinity and actively monitor your conditions to see if symptoms are getting worse or getting better. If you are feeling severely worse, seek medical attention immediately or 911 immediately.

If you are on medication(s), stock up for a 30-day supply. Because quarantine can extend up to 14 days or a month, having an adequate medical supply is essential. Many insurers already relaxed rules on prescription refills and allow members to acquire several weeks of supply for certain chronic conditions.

Practice good hygiene. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers could be in short supply, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds periodically to prevent spreading.

Is There Treatment For Coronavirus?

The Center for Disease Control specifies that there is no antiviral treatment for COVID-19. The main way for you to feel better is to manage and help relieve symptoms.

There are multiple drugs being closely studied, but none of them has yet made it through the rigorous review process to determine there are no side effects associated when used to treat COVID-19.

Drink plenty of fluids, practice social distancing - avoid close contact, and keep a positive mindset that things will get better.

Advice From Dr. Carrie Lam, a Board-Certified Family Medicine Physician

There are three common symptoms associated with COVID-19: fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath.

From Dr. Carrie Lam, Board-certified Family Medicine Physician: If suspected or tested positive for COVID-19, but able to manage symptoms at home because they are still mild, make sure to get plenty of rest, sunshine, stay hydrated, and have good supportive care. Use a humidifier or hot shower to relieve chest congestion, gargle saltwater if having a sore throat.

Take Tylenol as needed for fever, try to stay away from NSAIDs like Ibuprofen or Aspirin for now. Make sure to quarantine yourself at home to ensure you do not go out and infect others. Wash hands often.

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If you become short of breath and can't seem to catch your breath and your fevers are getting worse and not improving despite taking Tylenol, call your doctor (or 911). They would be able to triage and see if you need to go to the emergency room. COVID-19 could affect the lungs very quickly and you might need to get hospitalized to have pulmonary support if it comes to that. I would also recommend taking high doses of Vitamin C and Vitamin D to help boost the immune system. Said Dr. Lam.

Dr. Carrie Lam, Family Medicine, Board-certified

Are supplements effective in fighting coronavirus?

According to Dr. Lam, supplements won't eliminate the Coronavirus, but they can help boost the immune system. This will help your body fight off any virus that you're exposed to. Some of the best supplements for this are:

  • Vitamin C - oral or IV both help eliminate lung fluid and prevent neutrophil accumulation.
  • Zinc - helps support immune cell proliferation.
  • Turmeric - helps with inflammation in the body.
  • Olive Leaf - enhances immune functioning and aids in the management of fevers.
  • Vitamin D - a natural hormone and steroid in the body to help boost immune function.
  • Cordyceps - a useful anti-inflammatory supplement to reduce inflammation in the lungs.
  • Beta-glucan - reduces the severity of influenza.
  • N-Acetylcysteine - helps glutathione production and thins the mucus.
  • Colloidal silver/Argentyn 23 - a potent antiviral.

What medications should I avoid if I have coronavirus?

Corticosteroids. According to the Center for Disease Control, corticosteroids have the potential for prolonging viral replication as observed in MERS-CoV patients, unless indicated for other reasons.

Ibuprofen. As of March 19, the WHO does not recommend ibuprofen to treat COVID-19 symptoms. According to a 2011 study, people with pneumonia experienced worse symptoms and prolonged illness after taking an NSAID, including ibuprofen. In the UK, the NHS is advising patients to take paracetamol instead, unless told otherwise by a pharmacist.

Antimalarial drugs, chloroquine, and hydroxychloroquine (warning). According to the Wall Street Journal, health officials are issuing a warning over the use of any antimalarial drug to treat Coronavirus.

Keep Your Emotional Health in Check

Being in isolation for an extended period of time can have a very negative impact on your overall wellbeing. In parallel with recovering physically, it is essential to have a routine to keep your emotional health in check.

Though you can't see family members in person, it is recommended that you keep in contact with them every day, either via phone call or video call. Having that little boost of support can make a huge difference in how one is coping with reality and get better

Keep a positive mindset is key

How Long Will It Take To Feel Better?

According to Harvard Medical School Publishing, depending on your symptoms, most individuals with mild symptoms have covered within 7 to 14 days.

In severe cases, like those hospitalized, recovery can take more than two months. According to the most recent estimates, about 1% of infected persons will die from the diseases.

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When Can I Be Around Others?

Research studies have shown that viral genetic materials could still be detected several weeks after someone recovered from COVID-19. 

In general, you should self isolate for 10 days if you were positive for COVID-19 and 14 days if you had close contact with someone who had COVID-19. There is a 14 incubation period for the virus. In addition, if you have COVID-19 and then recover, getting two negative PCR tests in a row at least 24 hours apart is usually a sign that you are likely, not contagious. Read more here.

Will I Have Immunity To Coronavirus?

Yes, you will most likely have immunity to coronavirus. You can confirm this with an antibody test. However, it's not known for certain how long immunity lasts so it's essential to continue wearing a mask and social distance.

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