top of page
  • Writer's pictureKaren McPhail, RN, MSN

What to Do if You are at Home with Coronavirus - Care Considerations.

Everyone of course is in preventative mode and advising on cleaning agents, sanitizers, social isolation, and more, but what do you do to care for yourself or a loved one who tests positive for the coronavirus?

The Basics:

  • There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.

  • Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.

  • Treatment is focused on relieving symptoms while the body fights the illness and recovers.

  • Even without symptoms one can be contagious, so individuals need to self isolate to prevent the spread.

  • Sick individuals need to stay away from other people, until they have fully recovered.

What you Really Need at Home:

  • Tylenol (325 mg tablets) and Motrin (200 mg tablets) will be needed if you do not have allergies or any contraindications stated from your physician. You can do a Motrin and Tylenol rotation as advised to control fevers.

  • Cough medicine (Robitussin, Mucinex, Delsym, etc)

  • An oral thermometer (remember to sanitize after using)

  • A cool mist humidifier as they may help ease coughing and congestion. There are many choices. I like the Honeywell HCM-350 Germ-Free Cool Mist Humidifier as it is a quiet, easy-to-use humidifier that's designed for larger rooms, but most are fine! If you do not have one of course turning on the shower and sitting in the steam can be helpful also to ease congestion.

  • If you are someone on respiratory medications ensure you are diligent in refilling and using especially at this time. Stay at home and avoid exposure to others who are not self isolating.

  • An oscillating table top fan as a light breeze can help to ease breathing and helps with fevers. Overhead fans are also terrific as will do the same.

  • Tissues, lip moisturizer, small trash can bags or gallon ziplocks to seal off used items when disposing.

  • Have on hand hydration drinks such as gatorade, smart water, etc. Vitamin water is also terrific and variety is nice.

  • Have some liquid nutritional supplements also on hand such as ensure, boost, glucerna, etc. High protein for healing is best unless contraindicated for you specifically. A multivitamin and vitamin C unless contraindicated.

  • Ensure that you monitor any routine medications and supplies used. Have on hand 4 weeks of supplies and ensure that your prescription medications are reordered on time and delivered as most pharmacies will now deliver meds and medical supplies. Reach out if you need guidance on this.

  • Have some easy meals on hand. Since many stores are temporarily out of a ton of perishable items do not stress, they will eventually be restocked and can be delivered. You can make some easy meals that are still nutritious with non perishables that can also be delivered, many of which are in stock. Contact us for guidance.

  • Have CDC approved cleaning supplies on hand. Hand soap, antibacterial if possible, but good hand washing important either way. Gloves and mask may be needed if potentially caring for another.

Management Considerations:

Again this is going to be all about symptom management! Sadly you see a lot of guidance on prevention, but not much on management lately!

  • Treatment plan is similar to what is often used for an upper respiratory infection or pneumonia.

  • Take medications as advised / directed by your physician.

  • Fever management will be critical! By alternating acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Motrin) you can hopefully keep the fever down. Generally for a fever of or above 101, alternate Tylenol & Motrin (each med every 6 hours), taking a dose of one or the other every 3 hours. For example:

  • Tylenol - 12 noon

  • Motrin - 3 pm

  • Tylenol 6 pm

  • Motrin - 9 pm

  • Read the bottles and inquire to your physician if needed for dosing advise. Be careful not to take more than one medication containing acetaminophen, such as some cough and cold medications. Apply a damp, cool compress to the forehead to help lower temperature. Dress lightly, but avoid getting chilled. A temperature reading at or above 104 °F is called hyperpyrexia and is considered a medical emergency requiring immediate care.

  • Use cough medications as directed - Most have suppressants & expectorants which are helpful.

  • Eat foods that are easy to digest, like crackers and soup. Avoid dairy products like milk, chocolate, and cheese as they can be mucous producing.

  • Stay hydrated!!!! Remember if you are dehydrated then water alone will not hydrate you and can make you worse and more dehydrated. Always drink water and electrolyte based solutions to stay hydrated!

  • Get rest, but also ensure that you get up every few hours to walk and clear your lungs. Your body is working hard and on overdrive to fight the virus. Be sure to get plenty of sleep so you can recharge and heal. Alternate positions while resting. Reposition those who are unable to do so themselves- rotate side, back, side. Practice deep breathing if able by taking a slow deep breath and holding it for 5- 10 seconds. Try to do this 10 times every 2 hours.

  • If ill do not leave your home! If you need to see the doctor call first or do this virtually. If caring for someone ill use personal protective equipment - mask, gloves. A gown and eye protective wear may also be prudent for some care situations. Use good hand washing after care!

  • Individuals will not require hospitalization or an ER visit unless they are having trouble breathing or their fever is very high and cannot be controlled at home with a rotation schedule of Tylenol and Motrin.

  • If you have a pre-existing respiratory condition, diabetes, or are on immunosuppressant therapy, form a plan now by speaking with your physician and care management team about what process should be followed in the event that you require hospital treatment. A plan will put your mind at ease and help you to get the best of care in a timely manner.

  • Wash hands often and clean frequently touched surfaces with a CDC advised cleaning agent!

  • If you require guidance reach out to us as we are here to help!


As with all our blogs: always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition as it pertains to your health specifics and plan of care.

72 views1 comment
bottom of page