How do you treat your symptoms at home when you have a mild case of COVID-19? Here are some suggestions to help you regain your health.
What symptoms should I look out for?
Coughing, fever, extreme fatigue or a sudden loss of the sense of smell are common symptoms of COVID-19. More serious symptoms include breathing difficulties and pneumonia.
If you experience these symptoms, you must stay at home and avoid contact with others. Contact your provincial COVID-19 health line as soon as possible for instructions. If you experience breathing difficulties, call 9-1-1.
Do I need to worry if I received a positive result?
It is normal to worry when the result of a COVID-19 diagnostic test comes back positive. However, remember that more than 80% of infected people recover without any particular treatment and that only a minority of affected people are hospitalized.
Many people at low risk of complications and who have mild symptoms can recover from their COVID-19 episode in the comfort of their own home.
What should I do if I receive a positive diagnosis for COVID-19?
First, you should immediately follow the isolation guideline to avoid contaminating your loved ones. Here are some basic recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus:
- keep a minimum 2-metre distance from them
- wear a mask if possible
- isolate yourself in a separate room during daily activities and at night
- disinfect your immediate environment frequently and thoroughly
If a doctor has given you a prescription to treat some of your symptoms, do not go to the pharmacy, but call instead. A team member will explain how they operate during the COVID-19 crisis. Then, the medication will be delivered to you, and the pharmacist will provide advice by telephone.
Are there specific drugs to treat COVID-19?
Despite all the scientific research currently underway, there is unfortunately still no specific treatment to deal with this virus or any vaccine to prevent it.
However, it is encouraging to know that a number of clinical trials are underway in various hospitals around the world to assess the efficacy of certain drugs already on the market (e.g., hydroxychloroquine, colchicine and certain antiretroviral drugs) against COVID-19.
What are the options available to me to reduce the intensity of my symptoms?
First, it cannot be emphasized enough that the most important element to promote recovery is rest. You will probably feel weak and tired, so it will be necessary for you to rest to help you fight the illness. Hydration is also key; it is recommended to drink at least 1.5 litres of water a day to prevent dehydration that can come with fever. Additionally, remember to eat well, including protein-rich foods (e.g., meat, fish, legumes, nuts, etc.) to regain your strength.
Below is some information to help ease more specific symptoms.
Fever and body aches
One of the primary symptoms of COVID-19 is fever. It is important to treat it, particularly in children that are prone to convulsions. Body temperature should be kept under:
- 38 °C (100.4 °F) (rectal temperature) in children
- 38 °C (100.4 °F) (oral temperature) in adults
- 8 °C (100 °F) (oral temperature) in elderly persons
- or 1.1 °C below a person’s usual temperature
Acetaminophen is the preferred choice for both adults and children over the age of three months. Following dosage instructions is essential to ensure its safety. It can also help to reduce body aches sometimes experienced during infection.
There is currently a debate as to the safety of anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen in the treatment of fever in patients affected by COVID-19. Current data are mixed. Speak to your pharmacist if you already take anti-inflammatory drugs, and you have received a positive result for coronavirus.
Fever may cause dehydration due to increased sweating. It is important to drink at least 1.5 litres of fluid a day. Juice, milk, herbal tea and broths should be favoured. Alcohol and caffeinated beverages should be avoided.
If signs of dehydration are experienced (e.g., dark urine, pasty mouth, dry skin, sunken eyes, etc.), the use of a rehydration solution can be beneficial.
There is currently no proven treatment to reduce a cough associated with COVID-19. Existing over-the-counter treatments generally used to alleviate the intensity of a dry cough could be tried. Since certain products can interact with prescription medications, call your pharmacist, who can help you choose the product best suited to your situation.
Coughing a lot often causes a sore throat. A salt-water gargle (1/2 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water) after each meal and at night can help ease discomfort. Hard candy or lozenges, preferably sugar-free, can also relieve sore throat pain.
Loss of smell
Loss of smell, also called anosmia, can occur in those affected by COVID-19. This can also be accompanied by a loss of taste. Loss of smell is not related to a blocked nose, so it is not recommended to use a nasal decongestant or a nasal rinse. This symptom resolves itself after recovery from the illness.
When is the isolation guideline lifted?
The treating physician or the professional designated to monitor the situation will determine the duration of isolation measures. Here are the main criteria for ending isolation:
- having respected the minimum isolation period of 14 days following the onset of symptoms
- being free of fever for at least 48 hours
- being symptom-free for at least 24 hours
However, other criteria could apply for healthcare workers. Discuss this with your employer.
If you have or have recently had COVID-19, it is important to know what to do to stay healthy, and above all, to avoid spreading the virus to others. Consult reliable sources such as your pharmacist. They are the heroes who are there to help you fight COVID-19, for the good and health of all!
This advice was written based on information available at the time this document was written.