New Delhi: In last 24-hours, India reported the world’s biggest-ever daily surge with 3.14 lakh new cases and 2,104 deaths since April 20 (Wednesday). This is the fastest rise in cases and deaths any country has seen so far in this pandemic. Every hour, reports are coming in on how India is running out of hospital beds, oxygen and how the medical infrastructure can’t take the any further load of the COVID-19 patients. Doctors and experts have now started to advise patients to take home care. So, how should you be tackling coronavirus at home? What is the best way for home treatment for COVID-19 patients – NDTV speaks with experts.
Who Can Be Isolated At Home?
According to doctors and experts, asymptomatic patients or people who have very mild illness can be treated easily at home. Doctors say people who have symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, muscle pain, nausea, diarrhoea and loss of taste and smell fall under this category. People who don’t have a symptom of shortness of breath also falls under this category.
The other category that too can be isolated at home includes patients with moderate illness for example if you have evidence of lower respiratory during imaging, which is your CT scans and your saturation of oxygen is more than 94 per cent.
Answering one of the common questions related to COVID treatment – when does one need to go for a CT scan, Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, Vice Chairman IMA, COVID Task Force said,
CT scan is basically a test in which we look at your lungs in this case – it can see things which chest ex-ray can’t. So if you have a patient whose symptoms are suggesting of a lung disease, your doctor will tell you to get this test done. However, one thing we need to know is that among all the patients fighting COVID-19, the number of people who need to go for this test is very very small. So, only get this test done when asked for.
When To Go To The Hospital?
Doctors say when patients start to experience shortness of breath, if their CT scans show increased patching in their lungs that is the time when they need to look for hospitalisation otherwise one can treat coronavirus at home.
Speaking to NDTV about the severity of the patient and when should they be alarmed, Dr Rajeev Jayadevan said,
We need to know that there are few demographics with COVID – someone who is older will have a greater risk to coronavirus and can develop a severe disease. And if someone is younger they are less likely to develop the severe disease. So that will be the biggest differentiating factor. Also, there are few vital signs one should look out for like pulse, oxygen saturation level, blood pressure and temperature. People taking care of the COVID-19 patient at home should also keep in mind one basic factor – the appearance of the patient, how do they look – if they are in some distress then it should be immediately reported.
Treating COVID At Home – Equipments To Keep Handy
If you are treating coronavirus at home there are two essential equipments that are required – one is pulse oximeter and another one is thermometer. According to doctors, both needs to be used twice a day by the patient and records need to be tracked.
Talking about tips for maintaining a good oxygen level at home and keeping lungs healthy, Dr Praveen Chandra, Medanta Hospital Gurugram said,
First of all understand, even if you have COVID – do not panic. Once you are diagnosed with COVID, do lot of breathing exercises to keep your lungs healthy and take a lot of steam. You can do normal activities as well until unless you have the warning signs like shortness of breath and low oxygen levels.
Dr Praveen Chandra also urged patients not to start panicking for oxygen cylinders from before and stocking it at home until necessary. Explaining at what stage one can need oxygen concentrator, he said,
Those patients who are having severe respiratory symptoms with oxygen levels going below 90 and 80 per cent only need to take an added oxygen supply. Don’t panic and take extra oxygen, thinking that will help. It won’t.
Also Read: COVID-19 Explained: Triple Mutation In India
What You Must Do – Few Essential Steps To Treat COVID-19
Doctors recommend few essentials steps for patients treating their illness at home:
1. Drink a lot of fluids
2. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently
3. Triple layer of mask, which needs to be discard after 8 hours after disinfection
4. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces as well
5. Avoid day-time naps, don’t stay in bed except for sleeping
6. Keep a doctor’s number handy just incase of any emergency
7. Steam inhalations and warm gargles are also recommended
Requesting people not to start taking a lot of vitamins when treating a COVID positive patient at home or giving it to the patient who is fighting the battle, Dr Praveen Chandra added,
What is happening is that people who are treating COVID-19 at home are consuming too much of vitamins – that is not required at all. Vitamin C people can take because that is proven to be beneficial against fighting any kind of viral. Vitamin D also people can take as many people have deficiencies related to it. However, I must say that there is no study that has found that if you consume big doses of vitamins you will prevent having COVID infection.
Dr Nimit Shah, HN Reliance Hospital, Mumbai said,
There are definitely no studies that suggest that taking vitamins can help fight COVID. But one thing we need to understand is that there is no specific harm in taking small doses of vitamins or zinc. Doctors do recommend taking Vitamin C or Zinc to the patients fighting COVID-19 or give it to family members who have a COVID-19 infected patient at home. The vitamins are given relief to the anxiety among patients and that is why it is recommended.
Red Flags To Look Out For
There are some of the red flags which patients need to keep in mind to report to their doctors and perhaps that’s the time when they need to look for hospitalisation:
1. Dip in oxygen level – If your oxygen meter goes below 92 per cent
2. If you have slurred speech
3. If you have weakness in your limbs – something that has gone up suddenly as compared to past few days
4. If you have difficulty in breathing
5. If you have pain and difficulty in your chest
6. And if you see discolouration of your lips/face, sometimes in your nails and fingers
Highlighting some of the signs that one should look out for, Dr Nimit Shah, added,
One of the essential thing for treating Covid at home is to get in touch with a doctor. There should definitely be one doctor who should guide you on the treatment, who can review your symptoms every morning and evening – that’s something which is of utmost importance.
Talking about the warning sign, he said,
If you have some kind of pain and that does not go when you take simple Dolo or Paracetamol then it should be reported. If the patient is not breathless and just has mild symptoms like cough and sore throat – there is not much to worry. But cough along with breathlessness and if oxygen saturation is getting low with some chest pain or discomfort – then these are the signs for hospitalisation.
Self-Isolation When Living With Other People – Things To Know
According to doctors the best practice for self-isolation while living with the family is when you have a separate room with a separate bathroom and the room should have enough ventilation. It is recommended that patient should not share vessels, linen or other personal use items with any member of the family while treating Covid-19 at home.
Only one person in the family should be allotted as a caregiver, who will always have double mask on or an N95 and that person should maintain at least 1 metre distance when catering to them or looking after the patient at all times.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.