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A Guide to Self Care of (Mild) COVID19

Jan 25, 2022 7:21 pm

I avoided getting infected with SARS-CoV2 for over 2 years. Now that I have it, I tried to figure out what I should do. 

There is guidance published on how to manage moderate to severe cases, but very few blueprints detail what to do with “mild” infection.  The first day, I developed congestion and cough, with a sore throat.  As the day progressed, I started to have chills, low grade fevers, and myalgias.  The postnasal drainage was overwhelming, and when I tried to swallow, it felt like swallowing broken glass. 

Isolating in my room, I was left to deal with my symptoms. I would text my family what I needed, but what did I need? I wanted to sleep but could not due to the amount of secretions that made me choke. My throat hurt; I couldn’t breathe through my nose because of the congestion.  Lymph nodes in my neck started to enlarge and felt like they were compressing my esophagus so swallowing became even more difficult. I understood the term “globus” now- it felt like a globe sitting in my throat.   Now that it has been over 48 hours since the start of my infection, most of my symptoms have improved.

I wanted to share with you the best way to handle mild cases whether it is yourself or a friend/family member who has COVID19.  This is a blueprint based on my experience with Omicron. Disclaimer:  I understand COVID19 can cause different symptoms in different people, and I would recommend following up with your doctor for medical advice. This blueprint is for people who are sick enough to complain, but not sick enough to see a doctor. 

Isolate.  Stay in a room where no one could enter to prevent the infection from spreading, but I want to expand on this. Isolate means do not let your children, pets, spouse interrupt your rest.  Your room is a quiet zone where you can play Candy Crush, check Twitter, and watch Netflix without having to yell out where something is located or mediate your children’s arguments.  The best way to isolate is to have your spouse take the children out of the house so you can enjoy having COVID19 in peace.

Drink plenty of fluids.  Alcohol and coffee do not count. The amount of secretions that is produced from this respiratory virus is unreal; I felt dehydrated from constantly blowing my nose and spitting up phlegm. Warm or cold drinks, depending on your preference, do help. I like warm ginger tea with honey, but when my throat was really sore, icy cold water really soothed it. I averaged about 100-120 ounces/day.  Make sure the isolation room has easy bathroom access.

Over the counter cough and cold medicines help. It’s no wonder that the cough and cold industry has grown exponentially in the past 2 years.  Each person is estimated to spend $41.43 on these products in 2022. My choice product is guaifenesin with dextromethorphan and acetaminophen +/-  an antihistamine.  Some people opt for phenylephrine to dry out their sinuses, but I find this too drying.  After I took a combination pill with phenylephrine, my throat felt like sandpaper mixed with glass as I was swallowing.  Acetaminophen can help lower the fever and improve myalgias, but check with your doctor to see if over-the-counter products are appropriate for you.

Rest. The body does heal itself quicker when you sleep.  Time also passes faster while you are asleep so you do not notice the discomfort.  Set your phone to do-not- disturb and play meditation sounds.  Avoid feelings of guilt especially for the workaholics.  No one expects you to finish X, Y, Z projects; permit yourself to  enjoy your alone time.  Relax now because once you recover, you might have to take care of others in your household who get sick.

If you are doing the above and your symptoms take a turn for the worse, you should contact your doctor. Secondary or co-infections may also occur; I have had patients who have COVID19, influenza and strep pharyngitis at one time.  My recommendations are for “mild” COVID19.  I am fortunate to have a mild case, and I fully attribute being  fully vaccinated and booster with my ability to get over this infection quickly. 

I hope you do not have to go through this, but in the even that you do, please refer to my blueprint.

The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject

Kathryn Dao, MD, FACP, FACR, is the Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Rheumatology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX. She is actively involved in patient care and medical education. Her interests include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, drug safety, and pregnancy in rheumatic diseases. Thoughts are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of UT Southwestern. Follow her on twitter @KDAO2011.


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