Treat COVID-19 At Home

By now, just about everyone in Australia will have known someone who has either contracted or been affected by COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. The super transmissible strain shows no signs of slowing down, with tens of thousands of new infections being recorded across the country every day. The likelihood of contracting the virus during Australia's current wave is high, according to our health experts, but how do we go about caring for ourselves when do?

As we know, symptoms can range from barely detectable, to like a bad flu or in worst can scenarios, they might require hospitalisation and even ventilation. If you're treating your illness at home, we've put together a list of answers to some commonly asked questions.

How should I prepare?

If you test positive for COVID-19, it's too late for you to go to the supermarket or chemist for supplies.

It's a good idea to have a kit at home with a few things you may need to treat the illness.

Things like paracetamol, ibuprofen, lozenges, cough syrup, and rapid tests (if you can get them) are good to have, just in case.

It's also important to have at least two weeks' worth of any unrelated medication you may need, and books, puzzles, or other activities to keep you occupied if you need to isolate.

What should I do right away if I suspect I have contracted COVID-19?

To start, you should determine why you think you may have contracted the disease. If you are a close contact of a confirmed positive case and you do have symptoms, you should get tested as soon as possible and isolate for seven days.

If you are a close contact but are showing no symptoms, you should isolate for a full 7 days from the date of contact with positive case and monitor your symptoms

This information is subject to change and is based on the latest advice from the WA Department of Health Testing and Isolation Guide.

When should I seek medical assistance?

Most people will have mild COVID-19 symptoms for up to 2 weeks.

Anyone with conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity or diabetes need to pay close attention as may develop more severe illness.

If you experience worsening symptoms, you should call your GP as soon as possible, these include:

mild shortness of breath when moving around or coughing

coughing up mucous regularly

severe muscle aches

feeling very weak and tired, but still able to move about

little or no urination

vomiting or diarrhoea

a temperature 38 degrees Celsius or higher

shakes or shivers

You should call 000 and let the operator know you have COVID-19 so that the paramedics can treat you safely if you experience any of the following:

severe shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

becoming short of breath even when resting and not moving around

becoming breathless when talking or finding it hard to finish sentences

breathing gets worse very suddenly

chest pain or discomfort

coughing up blood

lips or face turning blue

skin cold, clammy, pale or mottled

severe headaches or dizziness

fainting or feeling like fainting often

unable to get out of bed or look after self or others

confusion (for example, can’t recall the day, time or people’s names)

finding it difficult to keep eyes open

How long are my symptoms likely to last?

COVID-19 symptoms can appear anywhere from between one to 14 days after the infection date. According to most reports out of Australia, people are most likely to experience symptoms from between three to five days after the initial infection.

There is no specific end date for when symptoms will stop showing, however for the majority of heathy people who have contracted the virus, in two weeks they will have returned to normal.

Long COVID - where symptoms persist beyond four weeks - may require additional treatment. Further information on long COVID can be found here.

What are some remedies for treating the virus at home?

Much like treating the common cold of flu, mild symptoms of COVID-19 can be managed in a similar way at home.

Regular doses of paracetamol or ibuprofen can be used to relieve pain and lower fevers. Lozenges can be used to sooth symptoms of a sore throat, as well as products containing electrolytes, and regular intake of fluids to keep the body hydrated.

Other methods such as breathing in steam using a vaporiser and applying a damp cloth to the forehead may also relieve some discomfort.

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