In most cases, COVID-19 does not cause serious illness. It typically lasts for 7 to 14 days; once diagnosed with COVID-19, or if in intimate contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, It is advised that patients self-isolate for 2 weeks. Like any illness, the virus can make you more susceptible to other infections, such as another viral infection or a bacterial infection. Generally a physician can distinguish a bacterial infection such as sinusitis, pneumonia, otitis media and strep throat from a virus infection through a patient's history, examination and testing.
The following are general measures to make you feel better:
1. Get more rest, do not go to work or school if you have a fever. Rest at home and go to bed early.
2. Drink more fluids. Chicken soup is a good example and it has anti-inflammatory properties. Also use water, juices, teas and other clear nutritious fluids to try to flush the virus
out of your system. Also, good hydration helps the body fight the infection and thin the mucus secretions, so the body can get rid of them.
3. Flush out the virus or bacteria by using saline nose spray - 2 sprays each nostril frequently initially until feeling better,, then 2- 3 times per day thereafter. Take steamy showers to break up mucus. Use a humidifier in the bedroom at night or in the room where you spend most of the day. Consider Vicks vapor rub, either the plug-in type or the type that can be rubbed on the chest.
4. A runny nose and congestion may improve with the use of decongestants, such as Sudafed (pseudoephedrine), as long as you do not have a history of hypertension or have side effects such as palpitations due to decongestants. Antihistamines such as Claritin, Zyrtec, or Benadryl may also help but have side effects such as drowsiness and drying of the eyes nose and mouth. Antihistamines may be helpful if the underlying problem is allergy.
5. A steroid nasal inhaler (some are over the counter such as Rhinocort and Flonase) may be helpful to reduce the inflammation in the nose and the congestion, especially if allergies are the main problem
6. A medication to break up mucus is important at times. Such medications gently have guaifenesin as the active ingredient. Mucinex is a well known example. Mucinex D has a long acting decongestant combined with it. Often take the 12 hr Mucinex D during the day and plain Mucinex at night to prevent the insomnia that the "D" or decongestant can cause. (Ask the pharmacist for the Mucinex D "behind the counter" as it has the better active ingredient.)
7. For muscle aches and pains, sore throat, and for fever, recent information shows that it is better to use acetaminophen (Tylenol) rather than ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve). Ibuprofen and naproxen could help the fever and aches, but may be associated with prolonging the course of the Coronavirus illness.
8. For cough, usually humidified air, steamy showers, teas, tea with honey, cough drops, or products such as Vicks VapoRub work well. Other over-the-counter cough medications that could be used usually have a combination of guaifenesin and dextromethorphan such as Mucinex DM, Delsym, or Robitussin-DM.
9. All over-the-counter medications should be taking as indicated on their label.
10. To prevent spread of the infection, it is important to have good hand washing with soap and water. Hands should be washed often, and it is important not to touch your eyes nose or mouth when in contact with others who are ill. Also, it is important to self-isolate. This means to stay at home. Do not work, go to grocery stores, restaurants, bars or other places of social gatherings.
11. Antibiotics are used only if there seems to be a bacterial complication.
12. If sudden worsening of symptoms, such as unremitting high fever along with a bad cough and shortness of breath, seek health care immediately. Go directly to an emergency room, or call 911.