How to look after yourself if you get coronavirus
The severity of COVID-19 varies from person to person, so many who battle it will not need to go to hospital. Here’s what to do if you are well enough to recover at home.
Recent research from China found that around 80 per cent of coronavirus cases are “mild”, which means that the vast majority of people who contract COVID-19 should be able to recover at home.
If you have tested positive to COVID-19 but are well enough to recuperate at home, monitoring your symptoms is crucial.
Most patients will experience the peak impact of the infection between days seven and 10, says Royal Australian College of General Practitioners NSW chair Charlotte Hespe.
But it can take weeks for symptoms to clear up.
So what are the best ways to care for yourself if you do contract coronavirus?
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Medications to help relieve coronavirus symptoms
There are not yet medications designed specifically to tackle the coronavirus, but over-the-counter medicines may help make things more comfortable.
“Things like paracetamol and ibuprofen are symptomatic relief,” says Dr Hespe.
“There is nothing in those things that improve your outcome, but they may make you feel significantly better.”
Cold and flu tablets can also be used to treat symptoms, but University of Virginia division of infectious diseases Prof Bill Petri warns to not take more than the recommended dosages.
Also, avoid antibiotics “as they are not active against the virus that causes COVID-19”, and using antibiotics unnecessarily can lead to antibiotic resistance.
If you need prescription medications, you can have them delivered through a service like Prescription Home Delivery.
How to self-isolate if you have coronavirus
“What is increasingly evident is the more of the virus you are exposed to the sicker you’re likely to get, so minimise the contact,” says Dr Hespe.
This also applies in households were multiple people are infected.
“The instructions are to try and have a bedroom on your own and a bathroom that is yours and have completely separate eating arrangements,” she says.
“Your designated carer would prepare your food and deliver it to you, but have strict personal hygiene like washing hands and keeping distance.
“Always wear masks when in the room with someone with an infection and limit your time with them as much as possible.”
It is recommended you ensure sure you have adequate supplies of food and protection gear.
And use disinfectant or diluted bleach solution daily to clean any items touched by the sick family member, including door handles, taps and benches.
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Don’t stop eating and drinking
Keeping up your strength to fight the virus is important, says Dr Hespe.
“You certainly want to make sure you have got enough fluids on board, especially if you have a fever,” she says.
“Often the headaches people are getting are related to the dehydration.”
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When should you go to hospital?
Unfortunately, the virus can worsen rapidly in some people, says Prof Petri.
“Don’t stay alone at home if no one is checking in on you in person or by phone,” he says.
“If you are getting weak, have increasing shortness of breath or serious underlying medical conditions, that is a time to ask over the phone for medical advice or warn your medical provider that you will be coming in to be evaluated.”
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How do you know if you have recovered from coronavirus?
Due to the infection rate of COVID-19, Australia has strict guidelines of when an infected person can leave quarantine.
According to current guidelines you must wait until 10 days after a positive test or 72 hours after symptoms have resolved, says Dr Hespe.
But you must not head back into the community without consulting with a a doctor or medical expert first.
Essential coronavirus information
If you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, call the 24/7 hotline on 1800 675 398. You can also use the Healthdirect symptom checker.
Instant Consult offers on-the-spot online GP consultations and can issue medical certificates, prescriptions, radiology and pathology requests and specialist referrals.
For the latest official health and government advice, visit:
- Australian Government coronavirus updates
- Federal and state/territory government sites:
- World Health Organisation
Written by Alex White.