Feel like you have more questions than answers when it comes to COVID-19? While many who have it need hospital care, there are some things you can do at home to relieve some of the symptoms. Here are some helpful ways to treat mild COVID-19 at home from Dr. Arlene Dijamco.
A Brief Note on How to Treat COVID-19 at Home
Physical distancing and proper hygiene help prevent COVID-19. To date, there are no therapeutics, supplements, or lifestyle modifications that are approved to prevent or treat COVID-19. The information provided on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Neither FamilyApp, All Worlds Health, nor Dr. Arlene Dijamco are responsible for individuals who choose to self-diagnose, self-treat, or use the information without consulting with their own health care practitioner.
Treat COVID-19 at Home: Coronavirus Basics
What Is a Coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a group of viruses that commonly cause respiratory illnesses such as the cold.
What Is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is the shortened name for the novel “coronavirus disease 2019,” given by the World Health Organization.
What Are the Symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms usually appear within 2 to 14 days of exposure. Here are some of the main ones.
- Body aches
- Sore throat
- Dry coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of smell
As we learn more about this disease, we are starting to see a large variety of symptoms, including other neurologic and gastrointestinal issues.
Other neurologic symptoms may include:
- Impaired balance or coordination
- GI symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Heightened clotting tendency
- Chickenpox-like blisters
- Frostbite spots, which are actually due to micro-clots, referred to as COVID-19 fingers and toes
- Petechial rash (which looks like blood spots)
- Lacy rash
- Other rashes
Who Is Most at Risk for COVID-19?
Older people and those with underlying medical issues such as diabetes, asthma, and cardiovascular disease are most at risk for severe illness.
However, it is important to know that COVID-19 can affect people of all ages. Even younger people and those without any known medical problems have died from COVID-19 or required intensive medical care.
When Should You Go to the Doctor?
If you have mild symptoms, call your healthcare practitioner before going in.
Sometimes, symptoms can worsen suddenly after one week. If you are suddenly feeling worse, you should seek medical attention.
If you or a loved one has any of the following emergency symptoms, go straight to the emergency room or call 911:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to rouse
- Bluish lips
In addition, strokes have been associated with COVID-19 infections even in those not otherwise found to be at risk. Signs of a stroke include not speaking clearly, new numbness or weakness in arms/legs, or facial drooping.
What Does It Mean to Be “Short of Breath”?
If you are feeling winded or “short of breath,” then it may be difficult to walk across a room, go up a flight of steps, or speak in full sentences. If so, be sure to seek medical attention.
If you get sick, do your best to self-isolate from the rest of your household. If possible, stay in one room and use a separate bathroom so you’re not in close contact with family members. Have a healthy person you are quarantined with deliver food to your room. Ideally, whatever enters the room does not leave until you are better. Wear a mask if you must leave your room. Wash hands well and often with soap and water for 20 seconds, including between fingers, under nail tips, and forearms. Avoid touching your face. Open a window for ventilation, if you can. And don’t have visitors. It might also be a good idea for all members of your household to stay home until you all have recovered.
When Is It OK to Come Out of isolation?
Try to meet the following three criteria:
1) You are feeling better
2) It has been at least 7 days since the start of your illness, and
3) You no longer have a fever and are not taking fever-reducing medications.
Basically, you want to avoid getting other people sick at the same time, especially protecting those who are most at risk. Everyone is in a different situation, so exactly how to self-isolate from your loved ones may vary.
Calm the Mind to Treat COVID-19 at Home
Being sick and isolated can bring up many emotions. Remember, the “3 A’s” to calm the mind.
- Bring your awareness to your body and its sensations. What do you see and hear? If you are standing, can you feel your feet on the floor? If you are sitting, notice how your bottom and legs feel on your seat. What is the space like around you? This is to help better connect your mind and body. Healing takes presence.
- Then, acknowledge your emotions. See if you can name what you are feeling. You may have mixed and even contradicting emotions at the same time. By identifying your emotions, you are validating yourself.
- Most importantly, accept yourself regardless of the situation you are in. Send love to your body, mind, and spirit. Hug yourself often and say it out loud in the mirror, “I love you!” This may seem silly or awkward at first, but self-love is key to any kind of healing.
Ease the Breath to Treat COVID-19 at Home
Mindful breathing exercises are essential for keeping optimal oxygen saturation, which is very important and often challenging for those with COVID-19. The act of taking slow, deep breaths has a calming effect on the nervous system and can also help open up the small airways at the base of your lungs.
To help you relax, inhale deeply, then pause at the top of the breath until you naturally feel the urge to exhale. Then exhale slowly, taking at least twice as long to exhale as it did to inhale. For example, you could inhale to a count of 5, then pause at the top for 7 to 10 counts, then exhale for 10 counts.
Start coughing after five rounds like this to help loosen up any mucous. Then, lay on your belly with a pillow at your head. Since most of the volume of your lungs is located towards the back of the body, lying on your belly helps any mucous drain with gravity. This is called “postural drainage“. Take slow, deep breaths filling in your lungs completely to help open up all the little airways.
Do this kind of breathing multiple times a day.
Treat COVID-19 at Home by Nourishing the Body
Follow the health by nourishing your body. This can be hard when you’re sick, but it’s important.
1. Eat Well.
This is not the time for sugar, chips, and other junk food. Your body has enough to do trying to clear a novel virus.
Eat foods that will help your body do its job well. This includes healthy vegetable and bone broths, leafy greens, berries, and probiotic foods. You also can try to include anti-inflammatory herbs and spices like garlic, onions, turmeric, and thyme.
2. Do Your Best to Move Regularly.
If you’re not short of breath and can, walk around. Movement helps encourage lymph drainage which is important for clearing inflammation. Small movements and easy exercises like gently bouncing up and down while seated or standing also can support your lymph system.
Stretching is also helpful for releasing tension in the body. The more relaxed you are, the easier it is for your body to drain mucous and other inflammation.
3. Get Plenty of Rest.
It’s a balance because you also need plenty of rest. For many, this will not be a problem since COVID-19 often makes you feel fatigued.
4. Soak in the Sunshine to Treat COVID-19 at Home
A little bit of sunshine can help keep your Vitamin D levels up. Vitamin D is important for your mood, immune system, and lung function.
Be wary not to overdo it, though. How much time in the sun you need depends on how close you are to the equator, how sunny it is, how light or dark your skin is, as well as the sensitivity of your skin.
As a guideline, 10 to 30 minutes every other day or more should be sufficient.
5. Drink Plenty of Water.
You’ll stay hydrated and keep the cells in your body happy. Getting enough water keeps your mucous membranes moist and can help thin out mucous to help you breathe better. It also helps to flush out toxins. You know you are getting enough water when your urine is a straw yellow color, not dark yellow.
6. Air Out Your Self-Isolation Room to Treat COVID-19 at Home.
Improve the air quality you are breathing by airing out your self-isolation room. That means opening a window, opening a door if you are alone, and/or getting up and walking around. Stuffy rooms gather excess carbon dioxide that can interfere with your immune system response and your ability to think.
7. Connect with Nature.
Do you have a window that looks out to trees, grass, or wildlife? Or a place you can sit or walk surrounded by nature? If so, try to make the most of it. If not, bring nature to you with a living plant. Or, look at nature photos. There are many studies touting the benefits of being in nature, including boosting the immune system. In addition, studies are also finding that looking at beautiful photos of nature can help calm you, reduce stress, and feel happier. It’s about helping your whole health — mind, body, and spirit.
Dr. Arlene Dijamco
Dr. Arlene Dijamco, aka The MultiDimensional MD, is an integrative physician, pediatrician, and cranial osteopath, who studied at Harvard, Emory, and Albert Einstein. Her therapeutic toolbox expanded tremendously after completing Dr. Andrew Weil’s two-year integrative medicine fellowship. She is known for her intuitive knack, helping people nourish and balance the body, mind, and spirit. She is the founder of the All Worlds Health family, which includes her practice near Atlanta, nonprofit serving people in need, and online school. Learn more and sign up for her e-love letters at allworldshealth.com, and follow her @allworldshealth on Instagram or Facebook.
More integrative COVID-19 resources are available via Dr. Dijamco’s online academy. At home, she is a yoga novice, awesome wife, and mom to four incredible girls.