How to mitigate mild symptoms of COVID-19 at home, according to doctors

03/29/2020 | Business Insider USA | Don Reisinger
sick thermometer

Most people who are sick with COVID-19 have mild symptoms and are advised to stay home and take the time to recover.

You're feeling ill. And now, the test has come back positive: You have COVID-19.

It's an increasingly common occurrence worldwide. But most people who are sick from the novel coronavirus have mild COVID-19 symptoms and can recover at home.

"Self-management at home for mild symptoms would be similar to other colds or the flu: rest, stay well hydrated, isolate away from other family members," said Abraar Karan , a physician at Harvard Medical School. This last bit of advice, self-isolation, is more important with COVID-19 than the flu or cold.

He said patients can also use over-the-counter medications like Tylenol to manage the fever that often accompanies COVID-19. As for NSAIDs, like Ibuprofen, Advil, and Motrin, "there had been some debate about if NSAIDs worsen COVID-19 presentation," he said. "We don't know."

While those sick at home with COVID-19 should sleep alone, be the only person in the home to use a bathroom, if possible, and not leave the house, said Rishi Desai, chief medical officer at Osmosis , a doctor battling COVID-19's spread. Also "take fluids with a bit of sugar and salt (rather than just pure water). It actually helps your body absorb the water."

Regardless of how their case of COVID-19 progresses, patients should keep a close eye on any symptoms that become more severe.

"If symptoms come to include shortness of breath, severe weakness, or even worse, signs of low oxygen like blueness around the lips, then seeking care in an emergency department is very important," said Michael Gross, chief medical officer at Huntington Hospital.

In addition to staying quarantined and disinfecting surfaces daily , those sick with COVID-19 should also tell anyone they've come into contact with that they've contracted the novel coronavirus.

"Think hard about anyone you've been around when you've had symptoms as well as in the two weeks before you developed symptoms and let them know that you have COVID-19," Desai said. "Those folks should be aware that they may have gotten exposed to you so that they can self-monitor their symptoms as well. This is called contact tracing. And given how stretched the public health department is right now, it's up to each of us to do our part to help out in that way."

For more information on what to do if you're sick with COVID-19, check the CDC's guidelines .

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