How to Treat Mild COVID-19 Symptoms at HomeAug. 26, 2020 - Katie McCallum
Anyone can get COVID-19 — and we do mean anyone.
But not everyone battles the same symptoms — or severity of symptoms — while ill with this new virus. While some people get seriously sick and require specialized care in an emergency room or hospital, most people experience mild symptoms that can be self-treated in isolation at home.
You're probably already a pro at fighting a cold or the flu, but here's what you need to know about treating a mild case of COVID-19 at home.
What medicine do I take for COVID-19?
Just as there's no vaccine for COVID-19, there's no specific medication you can take to make COVID-19 go away faster. But, there are steps you can take to make yourself feel more comfortable despite your uncomfortable symptoms.
To self-treat your COVID-19 symptoms at home, focus on:
1. Getting plenty of rest. While fighting a new virus, expect your body to be busy. By giving yourself plenty of time to rest, you'll help provide your body with the energy it needs to get the job done.
2. Drinking plenty of water. Making sure you're adequately hydrated can help alleviate several symptoms. Fevers are usually accompanied by increased sweating, and drinking lots of water can help replenish the extra water you're losing — preventing dehydration. If you have a dry cough, a teaspoon of honey in hot water can help soothe your throat. If you have congestion, a warm, non-caffeinated beverage can help loosen mucus. In addition, ensuring you stay well-hydrated can aid your immune system as it fights off the virus.
3. Using over-the-counter medications when necessary. If you have a high fever, you can take a fever reducer, such as acetaminophen, to help bring it down. If you have body aches, a sore throat or severe cough, a pain reliever can help lessen the discomfort these symptoms can bring. Just be sure to follow the dosage recommendations on the bottle and don't take any medications that may conflict with any other medications you're taking or any health conditions you may have.
And, remember, self-quarantining means not leaving your home. If you need medications or other supplies to help you feel more comfortable, use a non-contact delivery service or ask a loved one or friend to deliver anything you may need to your doorstep.
The symptoms that come along with a mild to moderate case of COVID-19 can last anywhere from a few days to a week or more — with most people recovering from symptoms within two weeks. In the meantime, and in addition to the steps listed above, make sure you're monitoring your symptom severity and know when worsening symptoms mean you need medical care.
When are COVID-19 symptoms considered severe?
With everything you've read about COVID-19 over the last few months, having COVID-19 can certainly rachet your stress level up a notch.
If you have any questions or if you need advice or an opinion about the severity of your symptoms, call your doctor or use virtual urgent care.
In addition, know that mild or moderate symptoms can progress into severe symptoms or complications. It's important to monitor for worsening symptoms and seek emergency care if you experience any of the following:
- Difficulty breathing
- Persistent chest pain
- Inability to stay awake or new confusion
- Bluish lips or face
Call 911 immediately if you notice any of these emergency warning signs.
How can I make sure I don't infect others in my household?
Because COVID-19 primarily spreads from person to person through close contact, it's important to not only self-quarantine at home, but also to isolate yourself as much as possible from others in your home.
Sharing a home safely while you have COVID-19 can be tricky — especially if you live in close quarters. But here are tips that can help:
- Avoid contact with members of your household, including pets
- Do not prepare food for others
- Avoid sharing common spaces and personal items
- Wear a mask while around others and wash your hands before and after any interaction
- Stay in a separate bedroom and use a separate bathroom, if possible
If you live with someone who has COVID-19, you may want to take precautions as you share a home with someone who's sick (without getting sick yourself).
How long do I need to self-quarantine?
At the start of the pandemic, you probably heard that someone with COVID-19 needed to self-quarantine for 14 days. Given what experts have learned about symptom severity, knowing when you can end your isolation is a bit more complicated than a one-size-fits-all length of time.
The CDC recommends that if you think or know you have COVID-19, you should self-quarantine for the 10 days after your symptoms first appeared and 24 hours have passed since your last fever (without using a fever reducer) and any other COVID-19 symptoms, such as dry cough, are improving.
Once you meet all of these criteria, you are likely no longer contagious, and can be around other people in your household and safely leave your home. Keep in mind, however, life after recovering from COVID-19 still means practicing social distancing, wearing a mask and avoiding gatherings or other risky activities.