Mild symptoms can be managed at home with symptomatic treatment and supportive care
Symptom monitoring is crucial. Contact your doctor for new symptoms or worsening of preexisting symptoms
Go to ER or call 911 if oxygen levels are dropping below 94%
To decrease the burden of hospitals and to prioritize hospital care to patients with severe disease and comorbidities, WHO recommends managing patients with mild illness at home or hotels. Most of the COVID-19 cases are mild and resolve within a few days to weeks with home treatment. There is no cure available for COVID-19 now. The main goal of home treatment for COVID-19 patients is to relieve symptoms and provide supportive care. However, it is advised to discuss your symptoms with your health care provider before isolating yourself at home.
How do I manage COVID-19 at Home?
Fever, cough, sore throat, headache, body aches, fatigue, weakness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, change in taste and smell are the common symptoms of COVID-19 that can be managed at home with medications. Follow the precautions below to manage the condition at home.
If you have a fever, take antipyretics. Acetaminophen or Tylenol and ibuprofen are the antipyretics often used to reduce body temperature.
Drink water and other fluids to maintain hydration. Dehydration can worsen your symptoms.
Avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages.
Get adequate rest. It helps you feel better and speed up your recovery.
If you have breathing difficulties, do not panic, as it might worsen your symptoms. Calm down; try relaxation and meditation techniques. Sit upright on a chair and relax shoulders. Leaning forward might also help. You can use an inhaler after discussing it with your doctor. Do not share your inhaler with anyone. Disinfect the mouthpiece after every use. Keep your room cool and well-ventilated.
Oxygen levels: It is imperative to check your oxygen levels at home using a pulse oximeter three times a day. Check oxygen levels after walking for 6 minutes. If you are not ambulatory, it is ok to check oxygen levels at rest. Any oxygen level at or below 94% is considered serious. This exertional drop in the oxygen level is the earliest indicator that COVID-19 is getting worse. It is critical that you call 911 or go to the closest ER right away whenever your oxygen levels drop to 94% or below.
For cough, take cough medicine over the counter. Avoid lying on your back. Lie on your side or sit upright. Take steam inhalation and gargle three times a day that may help with your symptoms.
For any kind of pain, use painkillers like acetaminophen or Tylenol.
Prone breathing: Try to lay on your belly whenever you sleep. The majority of the lung tissue is present in the back more than the front. Lying in a prone position helps to aerate lungs better. It is proven that the prone position improves COVID-19 affected lungs. This is more important in critically ill patients but it also helps in patients with mild to moderate symptoms.
Breathing exercises with an incentive spirometer are beneficial, especially when you have COVID-19 pneumonia. Yogic breathing exercises like pranayama also help to improve breathing and body immunity.
Immunity boosters: Take Vitamin C 1000 mg daily, Vitamin D 1000 mcg to 2000 mcg daily, Zinc 50 mg to 100 mg daily. Add turmeric powder to your food items as much as possible or take turmeric 1000 mg daily. Similarly, ginger and garlic are proven to have anti-viral properties. You can add them to your food. Black pepper can be boiled in milk or added to your food. Tulsi is also proven to be effective. You can take tulsi leaves daily or drink tulsi tea daily. Studies are showing that Ashwagandha is effective on coronavirus. It is available as over the counter medication.
Drink warm beverages like tea or broth. Add a teaspoon of honey to hot tea or hot water and drink it twice daily. Children less than 12 months should avoid it.
Follow a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables. Avoid deep-fried or fatty foods as they may make you nauseous and feel sick.
Bath and cleanse yourself daily.
Monitor your symptoms. If they get worse, call your doctor immediately.
In some countries, oral medications are available for mild to moderate disease. Favipiravir is proven to reduce the duration of symptoms. Ivermectin is also used in some countries. Lopinavir and Ritonavir combination was used in the early phase of the pandemic but this combination is proven ineffective in multiple studies. Similarly, hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin combination is proven to be ineffective.
Some affected individuals with comorbidities like hypertension and diabetes may need oral antibiotics if they have COVID-19 pneumonia.
When to end home isolation?
The CDC recommends the following guidelines to end home isolation.
No fever or other symptoms for more than 24 hours
10 days since the beginning of your symptoms
Two negative tests 24 hours apart
If you develop any of the following warning signs, go to the ER or call 911 immediately or local emergency care provider.
Drop in oxygen levels to 94% or lower
Persistent chest pain or pressure
Bluish lips or face
Confusion or change in mental status
Cannot wake up or stay awake
Symptomatic treatment and supportive care remain the mainstay of COVID-19 treatment in 80% of the patients. Take adequate rest, healthy diet, moderate exercise, stop smoking and alcohol. Maintain strict home quarantine to prevent spread to other family members and other individuals in the community. Maintain adequate aeration inside the quarantine room. Keep the door closed but keep the windows open for good aeration. If other family members are entering the quarantine room for any reason, they should wear a face mask along with the affected individual. Similarly, if the affected individual is going out of the quarantine room for any reason, everyone should wear a face mask along with the affected individual.