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How to Manage COVID 19 Patients at Home

If you or a family member at home show symptoms of the new Coronavirus but don’t want to be admitted to a hospital, here’s how to manage COVID-19 patients at home. 


How to Manage COVID 19 Patients at Home


What is COVID-19?


The new Coronavirus (nCov) disease or COVID-19 is technically no longer news but for the sake of background, these are what's currently known about it. 


COVID-19 or SARS-COV 2


If you remember the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) associated coronavirus (COV) or SARS-COV health concern back in 2002, it is somewhat similar to the current COVID-19 pandemic, hence, it's also called SARS-COV 2. 


They both find a possible origin in some species of bats. SARS-COV 1 was supposedly more fatal but wasn't as infectious. The COV 1 epidemic was subsequently ended about a year after. 


Looking at the statistics though, COVID-19 or SARS-COV 2 has more fatalities than any other related viruses including MERS-CoV, which appeared in the Middle East in 2013. 


Symptoms of COVID-19


The usual symptoms of the new Coronavirus diseases include fever, cough (dry cough in particular), and fatigue (tiredness). Other possible symptoms include colds, sore throat, headache, body aches and pains, diarrhea, losing the sense of taste and smell, skin rashes, and discoloration on toes and fingers. 


Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chest pain or pressure, and loss of speech or movement are considered severe symptoms. 


COVID-19 Tests 


Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 doesn’t mean you do have it though. The best way is to get tested to be sure. 


Experts recommend waiting for at least 5 days after experiencing symptoms before undergoing a test for a more accurate result. The virus has an incubation period so testing too soon may lead to a false-negative result (more about this below). 


While waiting for test results to be released or for the incubation period, try to isolate or at least stay at home. You can still get infected while waiting or get others infected if you are already positive with CoVid-19.


Where to Get a Coronavirus Test


To get tested, find facilities that administer the RT-PCR test as it’s known to be more accurate than other types of test. 


I had mine done through a nearby Red Cross chapter. More about that through this post:


Red Cross Saliva Test for COVID 19


Saliva Test vs. Swab Test


I booked an RT-PCR saliva test through the Philippine Red Cross. Aside from this type of test, Red Cross also offers a swab test which costs Php 3800. The latter is the standard procedure that involves collecting specimens through the nasopharynx and/or oropharynx (or simply the nose or mouth) by rubbing a cotton swab, hence the name, “swab test.”


Saliva test on the other hand simply needs a patient’s saliva. You’ll carefully spit through a funnel to fill up the test tube until the specified line. 


Rapid Test versus PCR


Rapid test, also called antigen test, finds protein fragments related to COVID-19 and can be processed in as fast as 15 minutes. However, it is not entirely accurate. There are instances of a false negative and false positive. You could have the virus and still test as negative or test as positive but don’t have it. False-positive is relatively low though as compared with a false negative. 


There is a higher accuracy rate for PCR test on the other hand, which is why it is considered as the “gold standard” for COVID-19 testing. It uses polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to identify the genetic material of the COVID-19. It can be detected while a patient is actively fighting the virus or even after recovery. 


While the rapid test is cheaper and faster, there are instances when a PCR test is required such as for travel or employment purposes. 


Hospital Care for COVID -19


So after testing positive for the new Coronavirus, what happens next? 

You can either go to a hospital or isolate yourself at home. There are even isolation facilities provided by local government units (LGU).

But not everyone can manage COVID 19 at home or on their own. You should seek immediate hospital care for the severe symptoms mentioned above. 


Who Can Manage CoVid-19 at Home?


Covid 19 positive patients need not be admitted to a hospital for mild or even moderate symptoms such as fever, mild cough, colds, diarrhea, and body ache. There are over-the-counter medications (OTC) medications for those. 


But for more effective management of the symptoms, it’s better to consult a doctor for prescriptions that can’t be purchased OTC. Some of the medications need a prescription. 


Some examples are the following: 


Cefuroxime Axetil (ZEGEN)

Azithromycin Dihydrate (ZITHROMAX) 


These were some of the prescriptions our pulmonologist wrote for us when we tested positive for COVID-19. Zegen is used to treat acute upper respiratory infections while Zithromax is for bacterial infections including pneumonia, one of the conditions that are closely linked to the new coronavirus. The early patients back in 2020 were tagged as pneumonia cases and were treated for their symptoms. 


Zegen is available in most drugstores. The latter was not easy to find. It was most likely because of the surge in Coronavirus patients who have also been prescribed the same medication at that time. We called several Mercury Drug outlets looking for it but didn’t find any. They recommended an alternative brand with the same generic name. 


Online Pharmacies


If medicine is out of stock in local drug stores, you can also try online pharmacies. Just make a quick Google search for “online pharmacies Philippines” or similar search teams to find options. Some of the trusted names include MedExpress, MedGrocer, Getmeds.ph, MuraMed, AIDE, and Watsons Online. Mercury Drugstore also offers deliveries. 


We were able to buy via MedGrocer. Apart from the cost of the actual product (150 pesos for each tablet), note that there is an additional fee that most likely covers the convenience fee and delivery (200 pesos). Not sure how it works for other online pharmacy stores but you can browse through each site and compare. 


Purchasing medicines through an online pharmacy (or at least through this site) is easy. We’ve used it before to buy expensive medication at discounted prices under the Pulse Care Program. 


Telemed Apps


For a consultation, we took advantage of TeleMed services or the use of technology to deliver health information. There are numerous trusted apps for this purpose. Some of which include KonsultaMD, Medgate, Medifi, HealthNow Ph, AIDE, and more. 


We used the Now Serving by SeriousMD for an online consultation. 

I assume most of the other apps follow the same process but to be sure, try one to know. As for this specific app, we just registered to create an account and started searching for physicians based on specialty, location, and consultation type (i.e. physical or online only). 


The doctors sometimes specify their rates but if not, you can send a message and wait for a reply. If you turn on notification, you’ll even be notified via SMS for updates on the status of your consultation such as when the doctor replies to your inquiry, accepted a booking, set up a schedule, and so on.


There are limitations to a Telemed appointment though. The physician won’t be able to physically examine you. You will still need to visit a medical diagnostic clinic or a hospital for laboratory tests needed. But this will at least minimize the need to go outside and possibly spread the virus if you have already caught it. 


Why You Should Manage Symptoms at Home


With hospitals understaffed due to the increasing (and/or consistently high) number of Coronavirus patients, managing symptoms at home seems ideal so as not to add up to an already overwhelmed healthcare system. 


Some studies seem to support the notion that the virus is airborne. Hence, even without close contact, the virus can be supposedly spread through droplets when a COVID-19 positive patient sneezes, coughs, or even simply breathes heavily while unprotected by a face mask. So inside a hospital, where it’s not an open-air environment, the virus could be spread through the air vent or air conditioning. This theory is still speculative but even the World Health Organization is now accepting its possibility. See Transmission of SARS-CoV-2: implications for infection prevention precautions.


Another reason why you should try to manage symptoms at home is how costly hospital care is for CoVid-19. You pay for usage of the facilities including room, laboratory tests, pharmaceutical products, professional doctor fees, and more. 


If a patient uses the emergency room and intensive care unit (ICU), the cost is going to be higher. The pharma products you'll pay may also include PPEs or personal protective equipment used by hospital staff assigned to you. 


Remdesivir, which is what most hospitals administer to nCoV patients, can cost as much as 8,200 pesos (some say it’s even higher) for every use, which can be once or twice daily depending on the severity of the case. 


In some parts of the world, patients with moderate symptoms are sent home with prescription medication and not even admitted to hospitals. 


How to Manage COVID-19 at Home


If your symptoms don’t require hospitalization, here’s what you can do to manage COVID-19 at home. 


If you live with family, isolate yourself. Designate a specific area for you alone, say a bedroom and a comfort room which will be off-limits for everyone else at home. Don’t let anyone use your belongings either, including beddings, towels, clothes, cutlery, and so on. 


Stock up on groceries, OTC medication, and everything else you need so you don’t have to go out often to acquire them. This will minimize, if not prevent, further spread of the virus. A COVID-19 positive patient in public places increases the risk of exposure for everyone they come in close contact with. 


If you live alone, you can ask friends or family to help with buying what you need. Just make sure to follow the usual minimum health protocol i.e. maintain distance, no physical contact, and wearing a mask when they come over to deliver what you need. 


Grocery Delivery Services


You can also avail of grocery delivery services for food and other essentials. Supermarkets are offering this option including SM Markets Online, Waltermart, Metromart, MerryMart, Pushkart Ph, and more. 

Most of these services have a website where you can create an account and start shopping. Some even have apps or post details through their social media pages (like Facebook) for information. Payment methods accepted normally include credit and debit cards as well as cash on delivery. 


When the groceries are delivered, have someone else at home receive them. But if there’s no one else with you, just be protected (face mask, face shield) when receiving. Maintain a safe distance from the delivery personnel as well, for their protection. In other countries, contactless deliveries are followed. The items are just dropped in front of the door for the recipient to collect after the courier has left. Some LGUs can even help by sending their staff to buy groceries for you. 


Food Delivery Services


Aside from grocery delivery services, you can take advantage of food delivery service providers such ad Grab Food and Food Panda. Some restaurants also deliver directly. 


Pasabuy 


The “pasabuy” concept is also an option. It’s like asking someone else to buy what you need. There’s no legitimate service offering this yet but there are plenty of Facebook groups you can join. Most cover specific locations so you know they’re people within your area. However, since it’s not regulated, you will have to transact at your own risk. So be sure to transact only with verified users, or if possible, people within your circle of acquaintances; you have common friends, etc. 


Medications to Manage Covid Symptoms


Apart from the prescription medications listed above, other medicines include:


  • Paracetamol for fever


You are supposed to check for body temperature every four to six hours, so in this case, a thermometer is needed along with any OTC brand of paracetamol to manage the fever.


You should also measure your oxygen level every six hours using a Pulse Oximeter device. There are cheap ones available through online shopping platforms like Lazada and Shopee or you can also purchase reliable (albeit more expensive) brands on drugstores like Mercury Drug.


 Instructions on how to use it are normally included on the package but for a quick note, just clip the device onto the index finger while seated (if the patient can manage to do so). Reading is done in as fast as a few seconds. You're okay if you meter reads 90% and above but anything below 90% oxygen level can be a cause of concern.

 

  • Antiseptic mouthwash or salt solution


This helps with a sore throat. 


Some studies support gargling antiseptic mouthwash as a preventive measure against Covid 19 although not necessarily as a cure. See this journal from the U.S. NCBI NLM NIH


National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) is a part of the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM), which is a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 


I’m sure most brands like Betadine will do but most doctors recommend Bactidol. 


Gargling using salt in warm water also works. 


Lozenge such as Strepsils, Fisherman's Friend, or other brands will also help. I used (and like) the Pei Pa Koa herbal candy. 


  • Multivitamin supplements 


Since your appetite is affected, you can get temporary help by taking vitamin and mineral supplements. I believe any brands work but again, I have no idea why numerous doctors prescribe Conzace (twice a day). 


For kids, Scott's chewable gummies can be a substitute along with other vitamin and mineral syrup brands. 


  • Controversial supplements


There are a few controversial supplements that you can add to this list. But note that even medical professionals don’t completely agree on their effectiveness. They could also be unregulated and are sometimes coupled with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warnings. 


One supplement worth mentioning is Lianhua Qingwen. Supposedly, this traditional Chinese medicine alleviates cough and fever symptoms but does not necessarily prevent Covid 19 from worsening. It was used for respiratory diseases before the new coronavirus even started.


From my personal experience (mild symptoms only), Lianhua Qingwen helped manage the symptoms. The most I’ve experienced was the worst sore throat ever but other symptoms were manageable that I was even working (from home) back then. 


As of March 15, 2021, it can now be purchased like an OTC medication through major drugstores like Mercury Drug. 


Another controversial supplement is Ivermectin. It’s originally intended for poultry animals, particularly game chickens. But there’s a human-grade variety that only authorized doctors can dispense. Ask your physician if you’re interested to try. 


Based on the printed material which came with the bottle, it’s both used for preventive purposes and the symptoms. But again, this supplement is controversial. 


The prescribed medication Zegen and Zithromax appear to be more effective for moderate symptoms, at least based on my family’s experience.


More Ways to Manage Coronavirus at Home


  • Steam Inhalation 


I didn’t do steam inhalation but many attest to how it supposedly helped. All you need is salt diluted in a bucket (or any other large container) of hot water. Sit down while covered in a blanket with the solution under your feet so you can inhale the steam. This will make you sweat and supposedly helps clear the lungs as well as alleviate fever. 


  • Food and Drinks


You'll need nourishment to help your body fight the virus or at least the symptoms. For food, the usual meals for people with fever and flu are applicable. These include soup meals, fruits, eggs, and other types of soft food. Appetite will be a struggle but try to eat even a few spoonfuls.


It will be easier to at least get hydrated by drinking water and juice drinks, particularly citrusy ones. Aside from those, you can include other potentially helpful drinks. I had Berocca tablets, honey citron tea, and vitamin C powder diluted in water. 


Avoid caffeinated and carbonated drinks for the time being. 

Please note that I am not a medical professional and all suggestions above are based on my personal experience. Consulting a licensed healthcare practitioner and verifying information through trusted organizations and groups is still a must before attempting to manage patients with Covid 19 at home.

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