Author of The Blackout Book and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted
There are many different levels of illness for people who contract the Covid-19 virus. Some people have a few mild symptoms for a couple of days, others have a moderate case like mine, and others require hospital care. If you fall into one of the first two categories, your doctor will most likely tell you to manage the symptoms of the virus at home.
Disclaimer 1: This article is not a replacement for medical treatment or diagnosis. I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on television. This article is not about a cure for Covid or any type of prescription medication. It’s only about the symptoms. You should always get advice from your doctor before attempting to manage Covid at home. Be sure to seek emergency treatment if your symptoms worsen.
Disclaimer 2: Every time I write about this, the comments section is filled with people who don’t believe it exists and who don’t think I had it. Or maybe you had it and it wasn’t as bad, you think I’m fat, that I don’t take enough vitamins, or that I am a shill for Big Pharma. I already know your thoughts. You told me, vividly, of your opinions. If any of this describes you, then you are not the intended audience for this article and I wish you the very best in continued health and wellness.
The symptoms of Covid vary widely among patients. This article is intended to address the more common symptoms, many of which can be managed with home remedies and over the counter products. It includes many of the products and remedies that I used during my own bout.
Obviously, care should be taken not to spread the virus through the household with the use of proper sanitation, hygiene, and isolation. However, that is beyond the scope of this article.
Some items you need
You probably already have most if not all of what you need for managing symptoms at home. Be sure to have a reliable thermometer so you can monitor the fever of the person who is sick. Humidifiers can help people breathe easier, and a variety of over-the-counter medications may come in handy.
One of the most important things that I used was a fingertip pulse oximeter. This will let you know if the sufferer’s oxygen levels have become dangerously low. Check at your local pharmacy or order one from Amazon. Be sure to see if it requires batteries, and if so what kind. You don’t want to have to search for watch batteries when you have someone in the home who may have Covid.
Keep a good supply of electrolyte powders or electrolyte beverages. I felt very dehydrated while I had Covid due to the high fever. Supplement your fluid intake with these drinks.
Some people believe you should let a fever run its course because that is your body’s way of fighting off an illness. I tend to agree with this philosophy. Some studies suggest that particularly in the early stages of the illness, the use of antipyretics like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin could reduce your natural immune response.
Recognising the value of fever in the fight against infection does not imply that fever has no costs, but the available evidence indicates that the costs of fever outweigh its benefits only at advanced and severe stages of infection,5 typically when patients are hospitalised because of cardiovascular or respiratory complications.16,17 In such states of compromised physiological fitness (sepsis), the energetic cost of fever may be too much for the host to bear and, additionally, fever may heighten the maladaptive inflammation underlying the complications (source)
At some point, you may feel that the need to treat other symptoms outweighs the benefit of the fever, or you may feel that the fever has become dangerously high.
Make sure to keep anyone with a fever well-hydrated, warm, and as comfortable as possible. Sometimes a fever can be brought down naturally with a cool – not cold – bath or cooling compresses.
If the sick person has chills accompanying the fever, keep them warm with layers and extra blankets. In people who are diabetic, check their blood sugar levels – chills can be a symptom of low blood sugar, which will need to be managed separately.
One of the first symptoms that people mention with Covid is a really bad headache. The pain increases when you cough. I spent a week clutching my head every time I coughed to try not to jar it quite so much.
Over the counter remedies for a headache are:
Briefly, there was concern that NSAID drugs could make Covid worse, but a recent study has disproven that. Some healthcare providers are recommending aspirin to reduce the likelihood of blood clots. But also consider the advice above regarding the value of a fever – if you have a temperature as well as a headache, you may want to weigh the pros and cons of taking something to relieve these symptoms.
White willow bark is a common natural remedy for pain relief. As well, make sure to keep the sufferer well-hydrated. A headache is also a symptom of dehydration.
One symptom that makes everything else worse is the constant dry cough that many Covid-sufferers report. It’s generally not a deep productive cough. Like many of the other symptoms of this illness, a cough can actually be beneficial as it helps to keep your lungs clear. Cough suppressing medication is not recommended.
At the same time, you still need some sleep so cough relief may be in order. Some natural remedies include:
- A spoonful of honey
- Honey-lemon cough syrup
- A shot of whiskey or other liquor
- Warm beverages
A Mexican cough remedy recommended by the pharmacist is a tea made with lime juice, honey, and lots of cinnamon.
Steam can also be helpful – even getting into a hot shower can help open up your airways. (Check out these shower bombs.) The use of essential oils such as eucalyptus oil in a humidifier or diffuser can help, as can good old-fashioned Vicks Vapo-rub.
Mucinex and other expectorants can help to break up mucous if your cough becomes deeper.
If your cough begins to turn into shortness of breath or chest pain, you may have a more serious issue. If you have asthma, it may be time to use your inhaler. As an asthma-sufferer, I found that taking Claritin, an antihistamine meant to treat seasonal allergies, helped a little bit with the feeling of “weight” in my lungs. It’s important to check your oxygen levels with a pulse oximeter and make certain that the numbers aren’t falling too far.
The body aches from Covid can be pretty severe and I felt that mine were worsened by the relentless chills and shivering that went on for days. That was the main reason I ended up treating my fever after several days.
Body aches can be treated with aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Other non-chemical remedies include a hot bath or shower, a heating pad, or an electric blanket. While you should get plenty of rest, you may feel better after moving around a little bit if you’ve been spending all your time in bed.
The all-encompassing fatigue can be one of the worst symptoms of Covid. The level of exhaustion for many defies description.
Rest is, of course, the number one recommendation for fatigue. Sleep as much as you can. If you are home alone, choose easy meals, and don’t try to do too much around the house.
Remaining well-hydrated can help with fatigue. It’s important to also remain well-nourished with things like soup, bone broth, fruits, and vegetables.
If your fatigue is extreme or if you become dizzy, it’s time to check your pulse oxygen saturation. Low SPO2 can cause or worsen fatigue.
For some people, recovering their previous energy levels after Covid can take a few months. Listen to your body.
Loss of taste/smell
I never lost my sense of smell but I did lose my sense of taste and it still hasn’t fully returned more than a month later. If you lose your sense of taste, the texture of your food becomes especially important. Some things will really seem disgusting because texture without taste can be very very different. I still can’t eat bread.
Things with extreme but simple flavor profiles can be more easily tolerated. Saltine crackers, potatoes, bone broth, sweet juices, or spicy foods may be more appealing.
Being unable to taste can greatly affect your appetite. While losing a few pounds when you’re sick is normal, you still need to provide your body with the nutrition it requires to heal.
Supplements and vitamins
Here in Mexico, I was prescribed some supplements and vitamins by my physician. The following are all recommended to support your body while it’s fighting off the virus.
- Vitamin C (I took 8 grams per day – this can cause digestive issues so don’t start off with this amount unless you already take a lot)
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin E
There are other recommendations but these are the ones that I see suggested most frequently.
When to seek additional medical attention
A very common complication of Covid is secondary pneumonia. If your cough seems to be worsening, you may need to seek additional medical attention.
Generally, the pneumonia is treated separately from Covid and can include inhalers, corticosteroids, nebulizers, and antibiotics. This is fairly easily managed at home for most people who are taking the right medications, but ignoring it won’t make it go away. Pneumonia can become serious to the point of being life-threatening.
This brings us to the following.
When to seek emergency medical attention
Some symptoms require emergency medical treatment. As per the CDC, do not mess around with treating the following symptoms at home:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
If you have the symptoms above, do not attempt to drive yourself to the hospital. Call 911.
Call ahead before you go to the hospital if you think you have Covid or if you have been diagnosed with it. They may have special instructions for you to prevent the spread of the virus at the facility
Do you have other recommendations?
Do you have other suggestions for managing the symptoms of Covid? Please share them in the comments.