COVID: How To Treat Yourself At Home If You Have Omicron

The number of COVID-19 cases reported across Canada appears to have been on the rise over the past few weeks, according to data compiled by But as provinces remove many of their pandemic-related restrictions, such as shielding in public spaces and limiting gatherings, experts say this will likely lead to increased transmission. COVID-19.

Dr Christopher Labos, a cardiologist and epidemiologist based in Montreal, told in a phone interview on Tuesday: “The whole point of face coverings and all Public health measures are to prevent people from contracting COVID. “There’s an old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Amid the ongoing risk of infection, Canadians may be wondering how to treat themselves, whether they have contracted COVID-19. Access to PCR testing is still limited in different provinces, and rapid antigen testing appears to be less sensitive than the dominant Omicron variant. However, certain symptoms serve as common signs of a COVID-19 infection. These typically include a runny nose, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath, body temperature at or above 38 C, fatigue and body aches, according to Public Health Canada (PHAC), although symptoms Symptoms can vary from person to person.

Although certain groups are more likely to have severe cases of COVID-19, such as people over 60 years of age and anyone who is immunocompromised, most people who have had at least two doses All COVID-19 vaccines have the potential to be mildly ill, which experts say does not require hospital treatment.

However, even as restrictions continue to be lifted, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 has not gone away, said Dr Kashif Pirzada, a Toronto-based emergency room physician.

“What happened with the removal of some of the pandemic measures is that people thought it was gone… but it’s still there,” he told in a phone interview on Tuesday. . “And it can still be dangerous for you.”

Here are some steps to take if you have COVID-19, according to infectious disease experts, including how to treat yourself at home:


For anyone who has been diagnosed or tested positive for COVID-19, the PHAC advises them to self-isolate, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not. This also applies to people with COVID-19-like symptoms, who have previously been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.

“Really, the most important thing is that you isolate yourself and basically eliminate the number of people you’re in contact with so the virus doesn’t continue to spread,” Labos said.

Ideally, people should aim to self-isolate in a room that they separate from everyone they may be living with, Pirzada said. If space is limited and this may not be possible, Pirzada also recommends that people stay at home wearing N95 masks to limit further transmission of the virus.

“A lot of people live in apartments or one or two bedroom apartments, so the space isn’t there,” he told in a phone interview on Tuesday. “That’s when you have to be careful, especially if you’re immunocompromised [or] Elderly people in your family need protection. “


For those with mild symptoms, the Laboratory recommends appropriate doses of over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen (recognized by the brand name Tylenol) or ibuprofen (known as Advil), To treat the fever that often accompanies the COVID-19 infection. Cough syrups and decongestants can also help relieve a cough or congestion. The tools don’t necessarily attack the virus, but they can help alleviate some of the discomfort it causes, Labos said.

“It’s really just a lot of things that you use for the common cold designed to make you feel better,” he said. “It’s more about treating the symptoms of the virus than actually treating the virus itself.”

Dale Kalina, an infectious disease physician at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, Ont, says plenty of fluids and healthy foods are also important to avoid becoming dehydrated.

“The body is fighting something,” he told in a phone interview on Tuesday. “So the extra protein and extra fluids will allow the body to use the extra energy it needs to fight the infection.”

Pirzada also recommends using an air purifier with a high-efficiency particulate absorption (HEPA) filter to help remove any virus particles that may enter the air when breathing. These devices can be purchased online or made at home, he says, using box fans and furnace filters. If it’s not easily accessible, Pirzada recommends opening windows, if possible, as this can also help improve ventilation.

Having an oximeter at home would also be helpful to calculate the amount of oxygen in a person’s blood without having to take a blood sample, says Pirzada. If oxygen levels drop below 95 percent, that would be a sign to go to the hospital, he said.

“It’s important to get tested every day because assuming your immunity to the vaccine is running out… your oxygen levels can drop,” he says. “It’s a good thing to check to know when to go to the hospital.”

Thermometers, tissues, and hand sanitizer are other items that are generally recommended to stay at home during COVID-19. Ultimately, while vitamin supplements won’t do any harm, there’s no evidence they’ll be helpful in combating COVID-19, says Kalina.


While treatment options still exist for people infected with COVID-19, they are often reserved for people who are very sick requiring hospital care, Labos said.

“Things like steroids, intravenous antivirals [and] Other more advanced therapies are often given only in hospitals because benefits are seen only in the sickest of people,” he said.

In January, Paxlovid became the first COVID-19 home prescription drug approved for use in Canada. Antiretroviral therapy is an oral medication used to treat mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 and can only be given by prescription to adults 18 years of age and older. However, its limited supply in Canada means it is being used by high-risk patients, often those who are unvaccinated or immunocompromised. Therefore, it is not yet widely available to the general population.

According to Labos, when it comes to treating COVID-19 in people with mild infections, there’s not much that can be done beyond supportive care.

“The reality is that for the vast majority of people who get sick with COVID, if they have mild symptoms, the only thing they can really do is stay home, get over the illness, and wait for their system to essentially shut down. leave it. They are no longer contagious,” says Labos.

For anyone concerned about their symptoms, Kalina advises them to consult their healthcare provider, who can recommend medications that can be taken to relieve them. the symptoms.


According to Labos, it’s important to continue to monitor symptoms after they begin to appear. According to the PHAC, people can begin to experience symptoms one to 14 days after first exposure to the virus, with symptoms typically appearing three to seven days after exposure.

Different provincial governments have different requirements for self-isolation after exposure to COVID-19. In Ontario, residents must quarantine for at least 5 or 10 days, depending on their immunization status, and must continue to isolate if their symptoms do not improve or if they continue to have a fever. Residents of British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec are all subject to similar protocols. However, in Nova Scotia, the requirement is to self-isolate for seven days from the onset of symptoms, regardless of vaccination status.

In general, experts recommend that people who test positive for COVID-19 wait at least 7 to 10 years before the end of self-isolation, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated. or not. This is to avoid accidentally infecting anyone they may come into contact with after they recover, Labos said.

“I would say take at least a good week to make sure your symptoms have completely resolved, and then you can be relatively confident that the virus has left your system,” he said.


If your symptoms start to get worse, you should contact your healthcare provider or local public health agency immediately about next steps.

For people experiencing severe symptoms, they should call 911 and seek emergency medical attention, according to the PHAC. These symptoms include chest pain or tightness, onset of confusion, and most importantly, severe shortness of breath or shortness of breath.

“If you feel short of breath at any point during an infection, that’s a sign you need to go to the hospital,” says Pirzada. “If you notice your fingers turning blue or your lips turning blue [and] you’re doing basic operations… those are all signs that something is seriously wrong. You don’t have a mild infection, you need to go to the hospital. ”

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