Treating COVID-19 at home: Care tips
Treating COVID-19 at home for a person sick with COVID-19? Or caring for yourself at home? Understand when emergency care is needed and what you can do to prevent the spread of infection.
Most people who become sick with COVID-19 will only experience mild illness and can recover at home. Symptoms might last a few days, and people who have the virus might feel better in about a week. Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and includes rest, fluid intake and pain relievers.
However, older adults and people of any age with existing medical conditions should call their doctor as soon as symptoms start. These factors put people at greater risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19.
Follow the doctor’s recommendations about care and home isolation for yourself or your loved one. Talk to the doctor if you have any questions about treatments. Help the sick person get groceries and any medications and, if needed, take care of his or her pet.
It’s also important to consider how caring for a sick person might affect your health. If you are older or have an existing medical condition, such as heart or lung disease or diabetes, you may be at higher risk of serious illness with COVID-19. You might consider isolating yourself from the sick person and finding another person to provide care.
Emergency warning signs
Carefully monitor yourself or your loved one for worsening symptoms. If symptoms appear to be getting worse, call the doctor.
The doctor might recommend use of a home pulse oximeter, especially if the ill person has risk factors for severe illness with COVID-19 and COVID-19 symptoms. A pulse oximeter is a plastic clip that attaches to a finger. The device can help check breathing by measuring how much oxygen is in the blood. A reading of less than 92% might increase the need for hospitalization. If the doctor recommends a pulse oximeter, make sure you understand how to use the device properly and when a reading should prompt a call to the doctor.
If you or the person with COVID-19 experiences emergency warning signs, medical attention is needed immediately. Call 911 or your local emergency number if the sick person can’t be woken up or you notice any emergency signs, including:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent chest pain or pressure
- New confusion
- Bluish lips or face
- Inability to stay awake
- Pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nail beds — depending on skin tone