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Published on March 24, 2020

COVID-19 virus illustration

How Do I Manage COVID-19 Symptoms at Home?

Currently, there are no verified treatments for COVID-19. However, COVID-19 is similar to other viruses you might get during cold and flu season, and most people can recover at home without needing medical attention.

“Treating symptoms of any illness can help people feel better and make progress toward the best possible outcomes,” said Jennifer Thiessen, RN, BSN, COS-C, a quality partner with Avera@Home. “Every step toward comfort and quality of life helps, even if it’s a baby step.”

When people feel better, they can eat, sleep and get active more effectively.

“The many challenges that come with this outbreak should remind us all to review well-being and self-help steps,” said Whitney Flanagan, MBA, RN-BC, who serves as an RN-Consultant, with the Innovation Department of Avera eCARE®. “Managing symptoms at home is a vital in this effort.”

You can download a guide about self-isolation tips here.

You can download a guide in Spanish about self-isolation tips here.

Current treatment recommendations are to manage individual symptoms. Common symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Upset stomach, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea

Managing Fever

Do not use NSAIDS (Advil, Motrin, Ibuprofen or Aleve) to manage fever or pain. Instead, use acetaminophen (Tylenol). Current research indicates that using NSAIDS, such as Ibuprofen, can extend or worsen COVID-19 symptoms.

Managing Cough and Shortness of Breath

Over-the-counter medications used for upper respiratory infections may help alleviate symptoms.

Those medications include guaifenesin (Mucinex), pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and dextromethorphan (Robitussin, Delsym).

Some medications include multiple drugs; contact your physician if you plan to take more than one medication to manage your symptoms.

Other treatments that may help include:

  • Using a humidifier
  • Using a nasal rinse
  • Using a chest rub, such as Vicks VapoRub
  • Taking a hot shower
  • Propping yourself up with pillows
  • Practice slow, deep breathing in through the nose, out through the mouth

Maintain Healthy Habits

Be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. In general, you should drink a minimum of 8 cups of fluid each day when you have a cold or flu. If you are experiencing stomach upset, you should drink even more by continuously sipping smaller amounts of salt-containing fluids such as sports drinks.

Get plenty of rest, and wash your hands frequently.

Incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet.

  • Spinach and nuts are rich in vitamin E.
  • Citrus fruits, cantaloupe, watermelon and berries are rich in vitamin C.

Incorporate exercise as you’re able.

Eliminate stressors as best you can; keep connected to your friends and family through phone calls or other technology.

Consult with Your Provider

If you are taking an oral or inhaled steroid, please talk to your physician about whether or not you should continue. Steroids could increase the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.

If you are using a nebulizer, please talk to your physician about whether or not you should continue. Nebulizers atomize or create very fine droplets that go into the lung and can come back out containing COVID-19 particles.

Call your physician or 1-877-AT-AVERA if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Respiratory distress: Monitor your breathing by asking yourself, “How is my breathing? Do I feel comfortable?” If you cannot talk in full sentences, you need to see your physician.
  • Gastrointestinal distress: If you cannot keep fluids or food in your system due to vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Fever of 104 or higher that is not responding to acetaminophen (Tylenol).

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