Managing COVID 19 at home 10 practical tips coming from experience
Created by Dr. Vikas Singhal Updated on May 14, 2021
As a health professional myself going through home isolation for mild symptoms of COVID 19 at the moment, there are a few things I want to share with everyone. Before I do that though I do want to say that you must realize that in terms of treatment we are barely any wiser than what we were six months ago. The good news however is that now vaccination is available so please, please hold your horses just a little longer, until you are completely vaccinated. The only reason my wife tested negative and had no symptoms are coz she was completely vaccinated. So, I again reiterate, in the absence of any worthy treatment please take precautions the most important being never let your guard (mask) down when you step outside your house for any reason, except when you are alone !!
But if you do catch it in spite of precautions like I did after a year of seeing patients through the pandemic, but luckily being vaccinated, I feel reassured that I am extremely unlikely to have severe disease, here is what you should do.
1. At the start of any flu like symptoms please immediately start isolating from your family without waiting for the report. Any flu like symptoms in current times such as sore throat, runny nose, cough, fever, short of breath, diarrhoea, body aches, etc, are from COVID until proven otherwise. Specially if you feel symptoms are more than that from usual flu be extra cautious. Test early don't be in denial!
2. If you don't have major medical problems, most people can recover in home isolation so plan your room. Attached washroom is most important, room with a window is preferred, and room with a balcony is a luxury. Make sure you have some supplies of sanitizer, soaps, bucket, dish washing liquid, cloth disinfectant spray and disinfectant wipes.
3. Pro- actively consult your GP or Hospital Physician . Tele-consultation facility specially for follow up is preferable. They also need to be your point of contact in the rare case that your condition deteriorates and you need urgent hospitalization.
4. Good pulse oximeter and thermometer is essential. The most important thing is to monitor your oxygen saturation at least thrice daily to make sure at no point it's below 94 or dropping from the baseline. Monitor not just your oxygen saturation but also your pulse as that will give you an additional idea that the inflammatory process is settling. I saw my pulse settle gradually to 80 from 100 over 3 days, which was reassuring. The fevers should also progressively subside over the 2-3 days.
5. Healthy caregiver preferably someone who is vaccinated either your spouse, relative or friend. You can't achieve much without them. Having a vaccinated care giver to help out with your food supplies, clothing etc. will take a lot of stress off your mind and make two weeks of quarantine life a lot easier.
6. Local helpful Pharmacy number. Although there are virtually no medicines proven to work against mild COVID but there is no harm in taking multivitamins, zinc and other supplements as your doctor recommends. Your doctor may also recommend steroid tablets, blood thinner etc. based on your individual condition, so know a local pharmacy that can deliver to you quickly. In the absence of any definite medicine against COVID 19, the human body still fights the virus very well, in over 90% of us. So please take care of your body. Eat well (fresh fruits, veggies, protein), exercise at least half an hour daily and be well rested!
7. Phone number of a local laboratory that will collect samples from home. Your doctor may recommend certain blood tests at baseline and follow up. Most labs now run standard COVID-19 panels that include D-Dimer, CRP, IL-6 and other blood tests. Your family members would also be better off getting tested for COVID antigen.
8. Inform as few people as necessary. Please don't make covid positive your Whatsapp status or Facebook update! Jokes apart in the initial few days and maybe even later as this disease can be unpredictable, you will need to take lot of rest and you don't want your phone to buzz constantly. In-fact try to distance yourself from social media as far as possible, you may never get two such peaceful weeks in your life again!
9. Stay active as far as possible. Within 3-4 days hopefully you will have fought the worst part of the symptoms, so as soon as you can, get active again. Avoid lying down for prolonged stretches of time, rather than take short intermittent rests. It is amazing how quickly your body can get deconditioned when you are in bed for prolonged hours. As your body allows, resume gentle stretches, specially for your joints and back, and do deep breathing exercises.
10. Don't go overboard or crazy. As you will slowly realize this disease is more about common sense than evidence. Do what seems rational. Don't go crazy sanitizing your room or yourself, you can't! Try to resume a daily routine as quickly as you can, eat meals timely, set up a video call with your family at least during meals times, so you feel close to normal. Read good books, listen to music, try to relax. It's okay to have a bit of fear of this disease as that's what the unpredictability of this disease does to you, but don't go crazy!
In lieu of saying stay positive I would err on saying, "Don't let the negativity get to you".