By Dr Lauren Wise, a general practitioner working in Bedfordview (MBBCh, DCh, DA, Dip Obs). She is a member of GGPC (Gauteng General Practitioners Collaboration) which has created a platform for doctors to share resources during Covid-19. Look for #voicesthatcare on the GGPC Facebook page.
Stats are rising. Hospitals are inundated. Can you treat COVID at home?
The following interventions will depend on how unwell you are and which symptoms are worst for you. If you feel uncertain, try to check in with your GP or call the Corona Public Hotline on 0800029999.
How to treat mild symptoms of COVID at home
- If you are generally well, check your temperature whenever you feel sick or feverish (very hot or very cold).
- If you are unwell, monitor your temperature once, twice or three times a day (depending on how sick you are) and keep a record of it (this is useful for doctor’s when assessing patients).
- Use Panado to help control pain and fever.
- Rest as much as you can but try not to get bedridden.
- Staying in bed for days can cause bedsores, weakening of muscles, dizziness and balance issues, which all delay your return to good health.
- Even if you can sit in a chair for part of the day, this will help.
- Set your clock every two hours while sleeping on your stomach during the day, then get out of bed and walk around for a few minutes . Try for 15 to 30 min: no matter how tired or weak you feel, it is important to keep your blood and muscles moving.
- Also move your arms around frequently, especially while walking, it helps to open your lungs and keep your muscles and skeleton strong.
- Do breathing exercises (see guidelines)
- The more chest symptoms you have, the more important it is to set your alarm every two hours and move yourself around even at night . This helps open your lungs and move any fluid build-up in them.
If you are having breathing symptoms, try to get an Oxygen Saturation Monitor if possible. They are easy to use. Monitor your blood oxygen saturation levels (sats) for a few minutes at a time, a few times a day, depending on how severe your breathing symptoms are. Record these readings. Normal saturation is above 92% in room air (smokers may have lower ‘normal’ saturation levels). If your sats remain persistently below 90%, let your doctor know or get to a casualty.
- Get out of bed every morning and sit upright for a while, preferably in a light, airy place.
- When watching TV, get up and move during the advert breaks.
- When you need the loo, walk and move more than just to the bathroom and back.
- Try to go and sit outside for some time every day. Sunlight is very good for you and helps increase your vitamin D.
- Do not exert yourself or try to exercise until it is safe to do so as this may cause complications. (see article on GGPC Facebook page on Safe return to exercise)
- Keep your fluid intake up. Even if you have no appetite, make sure you are drinking at least 2 litres of fluid a day.
- Drink Energade, Powerade, diluted fruit juice , Rehydrate etc for electrolytes and glucose.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol that may dehydrate you.
KEEP FRESH and CLEAN
- A general nursing rule of thumb is to bathe your body, brush your hair and teeth, moisturise your face and body and change your clothes/pyjamas at least once, if not twice a day.
- Even if they are not dirty, the fevers and sweats get into the fabric.
- Try to change your bed linen too when you’ve had bad sweats.
- Clean clothes and linen go a long way to helping you feel better, generally.
- Stick to simple, small, nutritious meals, frequently.
- The proverbial ‘chicken soup’ diet: toast & Bovril/marmite; soup; jelly & custard; a piece of fruit; fruit juice; a biscuit; eggs (any way you like); a piece of fish/ meat/ chicken and some veggies, a smoothie.
- If you have no appetite, try to eat a few mouthfuls at least.
- Try a shake like Ensure for people who are really struggling to get any nutrition in.
Recommended daily vitamins while you are sick are Vitamin B, C, D and Zinc.
Related useful articles:
- Covid 2: New Year, New Strain. What you need to know, by Dr Sheri Fanaroff. Read more
- Travel safe and travel wise in the era of Covid-19, by Dr Karin van der Merwe and Dr Venitha Seral. Read more.
- As Covids second wave continues, protect your family, by Dr Ridhaa Jawitz. Read more.
- Let’s go on a family outing in Gauteng, Jozikids. Read more
- Isolation kit: a shopping list to help you get through. Read more.