HealthEd

How to Treat COVID-19 at Home During Quarantine

Osmosis Team
Published on Mar 17, 2020. Updated on Sep 15, 2020.

The scale of the COVID-19 outbreak means many non-health professionals will be forced into a caregiver role, whether they’re treating a friend, a family member, or even themselves. This blog post is a quick primer on essential information people should know to handle these situations effectively. 

COVID-19: Symptoms

  • Fever (greater than or equal to 100.4 ºF or 38 ºC)

  • Cough 

  • Shortness of breath


Social distancing: Why it's important to flatten the curve

Social distancing is incredibly important for slowing the spread of COVID-19. Avoid going out in public for non-essential reasons, and work from home if possible. If leaving the house is unavoidable, steer clear of public transport, restaurants, coffee shops, and crowded spaces. These recommendations apply even if you're young and healthy, as you can still spread the disease among other people you come into contact with, leading to two bad outcomes: 

  1. If someone with COVID-19 comes into contact with a high-risk patient (people aged 60 or older, or people with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, lung disease) that person can become ill.

  2. Even a young, healthy person can develop severe complications from COVID-19, including lasting pulmonary fibrosis (thickening and scarring of the lung tissue), and there’s a small but not insignificant mortality risk as well.

If you develop COVID-19, you should stay at home in isolation for 14 days, even if your symptoms clear up before then. Do your part to flatten the curve!

GIF showing how we can flatten the curve and raise the line.

Hand washing

Proper hand washing, along with social distancing, is paramount for slowing the spread of COVID-19. Proper hand washing should last for at least 20 seconds—about as long as singing “happy birthday to you” twice.

Proper hand washing technique: 

  1. Wet hands with water and apply enough soap 

  2. Rub your palms together to create foam

  3. Rub the right palm over the left hand with interlaced fingers, and vice versa

  4. Rub your palms together again, this time with interlaced fingers

  5. Interlock your fingers so that you wash the back of your fingers with the opposing palm

  6. Clasp and rub the left thumb with your right palm, and vice versa

  7. Rub the left palm with the clasped fingers of the right hand, with a rotational movement, and vice versa

  8. Dry with a single use towel

  9. Use the towel to turn off the faucet

Should I wear a face mask?

The CDC recommends wearing cloth face masks if going out in public, especially in a crowded area, is unavoidable.

Best practices to keep everyone at home as healthy as possible

To mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spreading at home:

  • Practice frequent hand-washing with soap and water (20 seconds each time)

  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the crook of the elbow

  • Avoid sharing household items like dish ware, bedding, and towels, and wash these items thoroughly after use

  • Wash clothing daily 

  • Disinfect commonly touched surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, faucets, etc) with chlorine-based or alcohol-based disinfectants (containing at least 60% alcohol)



Essential supplies you should keep on hand

Keep the following supplies on hand at home to treat cases of COVID-19:

  • Tissues

  • Acetaminophen (preferred) or ibuprofen (doesn’t aggravate the condition)

  • Cough medicine with cough suppressant and expectorant

  • A working thermometer

  • Hand soap

  • Hand sanitizer with 60-95% alcohol (but soap and water is better)

  • Humidifier

  • Supply of clear fluids like water and broth.

  • Batch cook and freeze meals now so you don’t have to cook later if you are sick

Essential supplies to keep on hand during COVID-19.

How to treat a friend or family member who has COVID-19

Most cases can be treated at home. If you suspect you may have COVID-19 or find yourself having to treat someone who might, follow these guidelines:

  • Drink plenty of clear fluids like water and broth.

  • Run a humidifier or breathe in steam from the shower.

  • Wear a mask if sick, or if temporarily entering the room of someone who is being treated.

  • People with COVID-19 should maintain at least six feet of distance from other people, animals, be isolated in a separate room, and use a separate bathroom if possible.

  • Regularly disinfect counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables while wearing protective gloves if possible; throw gloves away after cleaning everything.

  • Handwashing is paramount. Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time

Osmosis infographic showing commonly-missed areas of the hand during handwashing.

How to know when to go to the clinic

Generally, COVID-19 can be treated at home using the above methods. If a COVID-19 patient’s condition worsens, call your doctor or a local health hotline before heading to the hospital or clinic. Signs that someone requires hospitalization include:

  • Rising fever

  • Worsening cough

  • Increased difficulty breathing

More COVID-19 resources on Osmosis

Dealing with a pandemic of this scale is taking a toll on people’s mental health. In an effort to have each other’s backs, Osmosis has gathered resources to help people stay calm and collected during this crisis. Check them out here.

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