Skip to Content

Caring For COVID-19 At Home: What You Need to Know

With over 24 million cases of COVID-19 and just under 400,000 deaths nationwide, the U.S. is still grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. And even though vaccinations are starting to take place, it’s still going to be months (or even years) before we can potentially go back to our normal lives.

That said, the vast majority of people who contract COVID-19 experience symptoms that can be feasibly treated at home. Despite the fact that doctors of osteopathic medicine make up around 11% of the American physician population, most medical professionals across different specialties would agree that home treatment is possible in more mild cases. Whether you start to show symptoms of COVID-19 or you’re looking after a loved one who has tested positive, here’s what you need to know about caring for coronavirus at home.

Treat Symptoms Properly

As vaccines become more readily available, inoculations will be our best defense against the novel coronavirus. As yet, there’s no cure for COVID-19, so the best way to hasten healing is to effectively treat symptoms as they emerge. If you or your loved one has a fever, you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol) to reduce it. There is some concern surrounding ibuprofen (Advil) in COVID-19 patients, so it’s best to stick with Tylenol. Those who were previously prescribed an inhaler may need to use it if they contract COVID-19 to combat shortness of breath. For a cough, you can take an expectorant or a suppressant, depending on your exact symptoms. It’s recommended that you stay hydrated and rest as much as possible to help your body fight off the virus. Other home remedies may include gargling with salt water, inhaling steam, drinking tea with honey, sucking on cough drops, sleeping on your stomach, using gel or ice packs, and utilizing a humidifier. You may want to avoid consuming spicy foods, dairy products, caffeine, and alcohol if you are sick with COVID-19, as these can worsen certain symptoms.

Monitor For Warning Signs

As you track your symptoms (or those experienced by someone else in your home), it’s important to keep an eye out for red flags. Although anywhere from 8,000 to 18,000 people are hospitalized for Legionnaires’ disease each year in the U.S., the hospitalization rates for COVID-19 are much higher — and in many places, hospital beds are filling up quickly.

While you may want to avoid a hospital visit at all costs, it’s essential that you honestly assess the situation to ensure you or a loved one can get necessary help. If and when symptoms become severe, you should contact your doctor or 9-1-1 to assess whether emergency care is needed. Severe symptoms may include difficulty breathing, chest pain or pressure, lethargy or confusion, or having a blue hue to the lips or face. Note that symptoms can often worsen after a patient starts to feel better. Coronavirus can cause symptoms to worsen seven to 12 days after the initial infection, while many severe symptoms can actually peak twice — even 20 days or more after the initial infection.

Since the symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu, the only way to tell which illness you have is by getting tested. At home rapid PCR testing is a convenient way to get a highly accurate test with same-day results. They also help you avoid exposing yourself or others to the virus at a local testing site.

Ensure Isolation From Others

To slow the spread of COVID-19, it’s crucial that those who are ill can isolate themselves from others — both inside the household and out. That’s a tall order when you’re in charge of caring for a loved one with COVID, but protecting yourself is possible, even if you live together.

For those who have (or suspect they have) coronavirus, you should self-isolate for at least 10 to 14 days. Members of your household should also isolate and keep other visitors out of your home. Family members should ideally quarantine for 14 days after their last close contact with the infected person or 14 days after that person ends their own isolation. Remember that the incubation for COVID-19 can be lengthy, so you should err on the side of caution.

It’s best to have any sick individuals isolate within the home away from other family members; if you have to share a bathroom, it needs to be thoroughly cleaned every time. If you can leave a window cracked to encourage air circulation, all the better. Everyone should continue to wash their hands frequently. If you do need to interact with other members of the household, masks should be worn whenever possible and social distancing guidelines should be observed. Refrain from sharing any personal items (like bed linens or dishes) and be sure to wash and disinfect everything properly. When caring for someone with COVID-19, remember to keep your hands away from your face, wear gloves to avoid direct contact with bodily fluids, and take caution when washing dishes and clothes.

Ensure that you’re using disposable gloves for medical use so you can be certain that you’re getting the protection you need. Also, follow proper protocols for handling and disposing of used gloves, masks, and other medical supplies to avoid contamination.

If you’re caring for a loved one, remember to care for yourself, too. Around 29% of the U.S. population provides care for chronically ill, disabled, or elderly family members during the year — and that caregiving can take a toll. While you do have to isolate at home, remember to reduce stress in healthy ways like with virtual therapy visits, light exercise, meditation, social media breaks, plenty of sleep, Zoom calls with friends, or enjoyable activities.

There’s no doubt that the threat of COVID-19 is constant. And while there’s a huge need for caution and compliance, the reality is that home care is possible for most cases. By keeping these tips in mind, you can care for yourself or for others while providing protection to those you care about most.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.