Coronavirus Home Care

sick woman coughing in bed

Most people who get the new coronavirus will be lucky enough to survive with a few weeks of discomfort. Some will need serious treatment. Here are the basics of taking care of someone suffering from COVID-19, as described by the United States Centers for Disease Control.

Call a Doctor

If someone in your home is sick, contact their health provider immediately and follow all advice rigorously. If the person's symptoms are mild, their doctor will likely advise them to stay home. If their symptoms are severe, the person may need hospital care.

Socially Separate

Get any folks who are under the weather set up comfortably in their own room as much as possible, and try not to share a bathroom or other common spaces with them. Limit or prevent any visitors, avoid shared contact with household goods, and keep pets separate from anyone experiencing symptoms.

If they can, people experiencing symptoms should wear some kind of face mask to limit the chance of spread. A person's risk of spreading the virus by air appears to be low, provided no one spends sustained time within six feet of them, but it can still help reduce those chances if they cover their mouth and nose with a breathable but dense material, like furnace filters.

humidifier spraying vapor

Keep Things Warm and (Relatively) Humid

If possible, keep the heat running on the higher side—the virus may be less likely to spread in warmer areas with higher humidity. Most viruses, though not all, struggle to survive in a humidity of 65%, but can last longer in lower or higher humidity.

Keep the Fluids Flowing

The CDC recommends keeping patients well hydrated to support their natural defenses.

Cut Out Smoking and Open Fires

This is a respiratory illness, so any activities that hurt the lungs can contribute to potentially dangerous outcomes.

Prefer Acetaminophen

Several health authorities initially recommended avoiding using ibuprofen for coronavirus symptoms, but the details of this issue are not yet clear. Tylenol (acetaminophen) should be safe for those who can take it, up to 3,000 mg/day.

Bed Rest and Natural Remedies

As of yet, there's no official treatment for COVID-19, so the main focus of care is keeping the airways clear and supporting the body's regular healing process. Anyone feeling sick should stay in bed when possible, drink plenty of fluids, and manage their symptoms as they would with a cold or flu.

man sleeping on stomach

Sleep on Sides or Stomach

Staying in one position all night is usually uncomfortable, but try to rotate between these instead of laying on your back. Some research suggests these positions may be better for the lungs, and postural drainage to address fluid buildup is medical practice.

Watch for Worsening Symptoms

If things take a turn for the worse, it may be critical to seek professional care. Pay close attention to coughing, fevers, and any shortness of breath, and seek immediate medical attention if you see emergency signs like trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips and face.