Preparation is key: How to Treat COVID-19 at Home

By Lianne Jacobs
Man sick on couch at home - Vitality

There has been no shortage of information lately about how to stop the spread of coronavirus.  While we are all doing our part to help flatten the curve by washing our hands and practicing social distancing, it is important that we also do our part to prepare to treat ourselves at home should we feel sick.  Our healthcare system is facing unprecedented strains on its resources, and with the World Health Organization reporting that approximately 80% of coronavirus cases are mild and can be treated at home, it is more important than ever to make sure our medicine cabinets are adequately stocked. [1]

Make sure you have on hand:

Medication for reducing a fever, like acetaminophen (Tylenol).

A thermometer for monitoring your fever, or for detecting an initial rise in temperature.

Medication for managing a cough, including both cough suppressants and cough expectorants.  Cough suppressants help temporarily reduce your urge to cough so you feel more comfortable.  Cough expectorants work to thin and loosen mucus, making it easier for your body to cough it up.  You should also have cough drops and throat lozenges on hand as well.

Tea, warm water with honey and lemon, and other liquids, as it is essential to stay hydrated when you’re sick.  A fever draws moisture out of your body, as does vomiting and diarrhea.  When you’re sick, you may not have an appetite, which may lead you to skip meals, leading you to drink less overall.  Proper hydration can also help the body respond to medication better.  

A humidifier can help with a cough that makes it difficult to sleep.  If you don’t have a humidifier, take a hot shower and breathe in the steam.

A finger pulse oximeter is an inexpensive tool that measures your oxygen intake.  It can tell you whether you’re anxious or whether you’re short of breath – take a baseline reading so you have a good comparison metric.  Blood oxygen levels are usually between 96-100 in healthy people.

Refills on any critical prescription medications, so it’s easier to stay home in the coming weeks, especially if you become ill and must self-quarantine. Several insurance companies have relaxed their restrictions on advanced refills.  

Should you feel ill, rest at home and try to manage your symptoms with the over-the-counter medications and other resources mentioned above.  Separate yourself from other people and pets in your home and use a separate bathroom if possible. If contact with others is unavoidable, wear a facemask and try to keep your distance. Cover your coughs and sneezes with tissues, wash your hands often, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home.  Wash all laundry at the highest temperature compatible with the fabric using laundry detergent. If someone else in your home is doing your laundry, they should wear disposable gloves to handle all soiled clothing, towels and bedsheets, and the area around the washing machine should be cleaned as well. Should your symptoms get worse, or if you experience shortness of breath, or if you are unable to safely self-isolate, contact your healthcare provider or your local health department to learn whether or not you should go to the hospital. [2]  

The best thing you can do right now is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  By having the appropriate medications on hand, you can do your part to stay home, avoid infecting others, and allow our precious healthcare resources to go to those patients who need them most.



[2] National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Department of Health Republic of South Africa. Clinical Management of Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 Disease, Version 2. 19 March 2020.

Lianne Jacobs, Product Analyst, has a master’s degree in public health from Yale University. She is the only indoor cycling instructor who can’t ride a bike. She enjoys traveling the world, laughing at her own jokes, and tricking her husband into eating baked goods made with hidden vegetables.

Ready to receive the latest in health industry news, tips and trends?

Sign up and we’ll deliver helpful, interesting content right to your inbox.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Request a demo

Learn how Vitality can help.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.