Caring for Yourself When Sick
Article originally published December 18, 2020.
While the novel coronavirus may cause serious illness and life-threatening complications in some, the majority of those infected will recover at home after experiencing mild to moderate symptoms. But even the less severe cases of COVID-19 can be miserable, and knowing how to care for yourself when sick can go a long way in aiding your recovery.
Follow these tips to better manage your illness at home:
Self-isolate to Protect Others
If you live in a household with others, self-isolating can help stop the spread of COVID-19. This goes beyond staying home when sick, and includes sticking to your own “recovery room,” avoiding common spaces (like the kitchen and living room) and eliminating the sharing of common household items, such as dishes and bedding. When you must be around others, wear a mask to reduce the spread of germs.
Notify Close Contacts
People with COVID-19 can be contagious for up to 48 hours before they begin showing symptoms or receive a positive test result. If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, reach out to anyone that may be considered a close contact to alert them of their possible exposure. “Close contacts” include anyone that you spent 15 minutes or longer with while being within 6 feet of one another.
By beginning your own contact tracing, you can help prevent the spread and save lives.
Make Rest a Priority
When you’re feeling your worst, staying in bed will likely be a no-brainer. As you begin to recover, however, it’s important that you continue to make rest a priority. Clear your schedule and recruit a family member or friend for help if needed. Small favors, like a neighbor dropping groceries on your doorstep or shoveling snow from the driveway, can reduce the stress you feel to “get up and moving” again.
Even if you’re feeling better, review the CDC’s guidelines on ending isolation protocol before leaving your home or interacting with others.
With any illness, including COVID-19 and the flu, it’s important to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids – like water and decaffeinated tea – to replace the extra moisture you’ve lost due to fever, diarrhea and mucus production or drainage. (Yes, even a runny nose can take a toll on your body’s water supply!)
Hot broth and other warm beverages can help relieve the discomfort of a sore throat or congestion while providing a source of calories.
Remember: good hydration and nutrition can help your body fight and recover from illness.
Manage and Monitor Your Symptoms
If you are experiencing fever and body aches, use over-the-counter medications to alleviate your discomfort. If you are experiencing cough or shortness of breath, monitor these symptoms closely. Contact your healthcare provider if you feel your condition is worsening, and seek emergency medical care if you experience:
- Difficulty breathing
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
- Persistent chest pain or pressure
Stay Connected to Your Healthcare Team
Remain in close contact with your healthcare team. Giving your healthcare provider updates throughout your illness can help you navigate the road to recovery together. It’s critical that you follow the advice of your physician and seek medical care whenever necessary. If you do leave your home to seek medical attention, wear a mask and do your best to avoid public transportation, like buses, taxis and rideshare services.