Treat COVID-19 Symptoms at Home
Disclaimer: These home treatments are for information only and not a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult your doctor before self-treating your symptoms.
Being prepared for COVID-19 is more than having enough toilet paper. You also want to know what to do to feel better. The following ideas are treatment methods that have been shown to make your symptoms more comfortable, and hopefully shorten the time you are sick.
When to call your doctor for COVID19
If someone in my family was suspected of having COVID-19, I would first call my doctor. Your doctor can order you medications at the correct doses that are appropriate for your age and weight.
Many health plans have a telehealth option, so you do not even have to go in to see a doctor, you can do it from home. A doctor can then assess you for other problems that may indicate that you need to be hospitalized, symptoms like
- shortness of breath,
- chest pain or discomfort,
- bluish lips, or
However, When you feel sick, but can stay home, these COVID-19 self-care strategies can help you be more comfortable on your road to recovery!
This home treatment plan is for my family in the event of one of my kids or I get this disease. Reports are that moderate disease is miserable and can put you on the couch for a 7-8 day span. I built this plan first out of curiosity and then out of fascination.
Common COVID19 Symptoms
I wanted to look at just symptomatic treatment of the disease and combat the most common problems and complications.
- Fever 88% of cases
- Dry Cough 68% of cases
- Fatigue 38% of cases
- Shortness of breath 19% of cases
- Bone or joint pain- 15% of cases
Other symptoms include Sore throat: 14%, Headache: 14%, Chills: 11%, Nausea or vomiting 5%, Stuffy nose: 5%, Diarrhea: 4%, Coughing up blood: 1%, Swollen eyes: 1%
The COVID Home Treatment Plan
Respiratory support for Cough and Shortness of Breath
Every hour during daylight hours; rotate from lying on your back to your stomach. Stay on your stomach for 1 hour then rotate back onto your back. Put yourself on a timer.
Because of the positioning of the heart in the thoracic cavity, lying on your back causes pressure on the posterior portion of the lungs, which, when you are sick can encourage secretion pooling and inflammation over a larger portion of the lungs than if you are lying on your stomach. The regular rotation keeps lung secretions from pooling in one spot and helps your body to expel those secretions when you cough. The goal of lying on your stomach is to lessen the long term injury to the lung tissue. A Study from the Canadian Respiratory Journal in 2014 stated:
“Prone positioning benefits oxygenation and improves mortality potentially through the mitigation of abnormal lung tissue strain and VALI. However, it is unclear whether the magnitude of benefit apparent in the PROSEVA trial will be replicated in centres with less expertise or different populations, and further research is warranted in this area.” Canadian Respiratory Journal
Every 2 hours, when you roll onto your stomach, have your partner perform either cupping exercises on your back or if you have a vibrating muscle massager, place a thick folded towel over the back and vibrate the back muscles through the towel for 15 minutes. Use a timer.
Cupping and Chest Physiotherapy help loosen secretions so that when you cough it is more productive. Coughing during this exercise is our goal… Coughing is how your body rids itself of disease. For a demonstration see the link below.
Every hour or 2, get up and exercise…dance, do jumping jacks, Walk, Walk, Walk, Raise your arms, Deep breath… any form of exercise, no matter how little. Exercise is a natural way for our lungs to expand. It also puts your body in a natural position to prevent pooling of secretions. An “Annals of Translational Medicine” ARDS study summarized as follows:
“The results of this study imply that mobility in the critically ill should start as early as possible, with low to moderate exercise intensity (5-25 min twice daily) which seems to be protective. This study suggests that early mobilization of patients with ARDS is a promising therapy to improve the outcomes of these patients”. Annals of Translational Medicine
Do deep breathing exercises every hour- The beauty of Deep Breathing exercises is that you can perform this on your own while watching TV or Playing Video games. Doing Deep Breathing improves your body’s oxygenation, promotes Chest wall expansion, increased Lung volume and is a relaxation technique. Here is a great video;
Go outside… walk, sit on your porch (Weather permitting) and deep breath, several times per day. vitamin D has been shown to help reduce respiratory infection rates. The Sun is our primary source of non-supplemented Vitamin D. Other sources are Milk, Mushrooms and supplements. A study conducted by the “Journal of Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapeutics” stated;
“According to this systematic review and meta-analysis vitamin D significantly reduces the respiratory tract infection related events as compared to placebo. Beneficial effects of vitamin D were observed in children as well as adults according to fixed model.” . Journal of Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapeutics
Mucinex or Robutussin or Guaifenesin. Mucinex is an expectorant, when taken with large amounts of water it can help loosen lung secretions, so that when you cough; your cough is more productive (you cough more crap up). Its job is not to suppress the cough, although it is believed that if your cough is more productive, the duration of the disease will be shorter. This medication does not work without copious amounts of water. Follow the directions of the manufacturer for dosing. Taking more than recommended does not make the medication more effective.
Albuterol or Xopenex (requires a prescription). Albuterol can be administered at home through either a nebulizer or a metered dose inhaler. Metered dose inhalers work better when they are coupled with a spacer, Spacers help the medication remain an Aerosol which delivers the medication to the parts of the lungs that need it the most. Both medications are Bronchodilators which means they help relax the muscles in the passages of the lungs allowing air to reach down into the alveoli. Xopenex and albuterol do require a prescription from a doctor.
Hydration/Water– Drink water… Our body uses water in every process in the body, and in the case of Covid 19, it helps in 2 ways:
- Water is one of the mechanisms our bodies use to regulate a high temperature.
- Our body uses water to keep the secretions in the lungs loose so secretions can be excreted from the body. When we become dehydrated the lung secretions can become more viscous making it more difficult to cough up the Gunk, causing more congestion in the lungs, causing alveolar collapse, compromising the body’s ability to exchange oxygen, which leads to hospitalization. Drink water, not soda (Drinks containing caffeine are not great hydrators)
Apple juice diluted in water 50/50 or electrolyte solution (ie; gatoraid or pedialyte)
If the patient’s food intake is scant or they are suffering from diarrhea or nausea/ vomiting; an electrolyte type solution may need to be added. A JAMA study in children in 2016 noted an decrease in hospitalizations in children who used diluted apple juice over pedialyte. Both are great for cases of vomiting or electrolyte imbalance.
90% of infected patients struggle with Fever; with Covid 19 high fevers of 103-104 degrees are common. Fever is one of the body’s ways of fighting infection. Fevers are beneficial in that they make the body a less enticing place to live for the virus. A Fever does not always have to be treated, although Fevers above 107 can cause brain damage, so they do need to be monitored. If your child is reporting “fevers or Chills”, I generally believe they have a fever even if a thermometer reads in the normal range.
The problem with fevers is that they make you feel miserable and tired. If you have ever had a seasonal flu you might remember how much better you feel when your fever is controlled. Controlling a fever is done so that we feel better and sometimes it allows us a more peaceful sleep.
Acetaminophen/ Paracetamol (Tylenol) – is great for 2 common symptoms of Covid 19.
- 1. Aches and pains
- 2. Fever.
Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for dosing.
Treating symptoms using DAD CARES
When you have sick ones at home, it might be hard to remember how to help them. This quick acronym summarizes treatment ideas for those feeling sick with COVID19.
- Drink water
- Deep breath
- Supplement with sunshine and sleep!
Best COVID19 Resource
The best resource is the CDC themselves. Their COVID19 page can be found here, complete with a checklist of when to seek help and how to protect yourself.
The studies sited in this article include:
- Does prone positioning improve oxygenation and reduce mortality in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome?
- Therapeutic exercise in improving acute lung injury: a long distance to be covered.
- Vitamin D for prevention of respiratory tract infections: A systematic review and meta-analysis
- Effect of Dilute Apple Juice and Preferred Fluids vs Electrolyte Maintenance Solution on Treatment Failure Among Children With Mild Gastroenteritis: A Randomized Clinical Trial.
Stay safe.. stay healthy, and protect those around you!