By Sarah Garcia - April 30, 2020
The majority of those infected with COVID-19 will have only mild symptoms and can weather the illness at their own home, while only a few will have moderate to severe illness requiring hospitalization. Should you or a member of your household happen to contract the virus, there are a few simple steps you can take to be prepared to recover and self-manage the disease at home.
Step 1: Identify a room and bathroom to quarantine yourself or the sick family member in
Perhaps the most important step in recovering from COVID-19 at home is keeping the infected person isolated. If possible, choose a room in the house with an attached bathroom and remain isolated to those rooms. Although not ideal, if the patient needs to leave the room or others need to enter to care for them, they should wear a properly-fitted medical mask when doing so, washing hands before and after.
Step 2: Gather the right supplies
The infected person will need to self-isolate for a minimum of two weeks. The right supplies will help you or your loved one recover, while keeping the rest of the family healthy.
Safety and Cleaning
- Masks. Make sure you’re wearing them properly.
- Effective EPA-approved disinfectant. See tips for cleaning and disinfecting against COVID here.
- Laundry detergent – all clothes and linens from the sick person should be laundered with detergent on the hottest setting the fabric will allow, then dried
- Hand soap and sanitizer – both the patient and caregiver should wash hands regularly
- Paper towels
- Waste bin with liner and lid
Food and Drink
- Broth-based soups, such as chicken noodle
- Water and electrolyte-replacement drinks
- High-calorie nutrient-dense foods such as avocados, other fruits and vegetables
- Tea and honey for soothing sore throat
According to Dr. Yanina Pasikhova, clinical pharmacy specialist, Infectious Diseases Department at Moffitt Cancer Center, although no specific treatments exist for COVID-19, you can treat the symptoms to feel better. “Some of the same things you do to feel better if you have the flu – like getting enough rest, and taking medications to relieve fever and aches and pains – can also help with COVID-19.
Pasikhova added that patients should always talk with their health care provider before starting or stopping any medications to help with the symptoms of COVID-19.
If you or a loved one have any of these emergency warning signs* for COVID-19, seek medical attention immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Step 3: Monitor your symptoms
You should follow the guidance of your primary care provider, who will likely recommend monitoring your symptoms over the course of your home isolation. Common symptoms include fever and cough, but more serious symptoms may mean you should seek additional medical attention. You should have a digital thermometer on hand, and your provider may recommend a pulse oximeter to monitor oxygen levels. It can be helpful to log your symptoms (fever, cough and any others) over the course of your quarantine to keep track of any change or improvement.
Step 4: Stay home, except to seek medical care
The infected person should not leave the home, unless they are seeking medical care. If you do need to seek non-emergency medical care during your time in quarantine, it is important to call your healthcare provider first.
Anyone in the household who comes in contact with the patient should also stay home, unless absolutely necessary to pick up essential supplies.
Step 5: Ending home isolation
“The infected individual can resume normal life off of isolation if they have a repeat test for COVID-19 with negative results,” said Dr. John Greene, chair of the Infectious Diseases Department at Moffitt. If they will not be receiving a follow up test, they should meet the following criteria:
- At least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery,which is defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough and shortness of breath); and,
- At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared