Picture: Pixabay
Picture: Pixabay

Health experts share advice on how to treat Covid-19 at home

By Kelly Jane Turner, Rudolph Nkgadima Time of article published Jan 5, 2021

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Cape Town - There’s a long list, depending on who you follow or speak to, on how you can best treat the coronavirus from home.

From inhaling steam, hot baths, drinking lemon and ginger water, these are some of the methods that are believed by many to help in treating the coronavirus.

Treating the coronavirus from home can be tricky because most of the home remedies or treatments are not scientifically proven.

Home remedies do have their place and are recommended by many doctors, however, these are not cures for the virus and are used only to help alleviate the symptoms related to Covid-19, says Public Health Medicine Specialist, Dr Atiya Mosam.

IOL spoke to Dr Atiya Mosam as well as Dr Indira Govender on how you can treat Covid-19 at home and here is what the health experts had to say:

Steam inhalation

It is traditionally used as a home remedy for common colds and upper respiratory tract infections. Although steaming will not cure the virus, Dr Mosam says it may help to relieve congestion if people are experiencing it.

“People should be cautioned though that they should ensure that they follow proper sanitisation practices so that the secretions are not spread to others in the household,” she said.

According to Dr Govender, this method may help to relieve symptoms in some mild to moderate cases but will not prevent infection or cure disease. “That's the bottom line,” she adds.

Drinking lemon and ginger water

As a source of Vitamin C, it’s good to help the immune system to prevent infections and fight off viruses and bacteria.

Dr Mosam says the tea from ginger/lemon may be soothing to a sore throat; a symptom that is usually experienced by Covid-19 sufferers; and can also prevent dehydration.

“It is easy to drink if the person is not feeling like eating or is having gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhoea. Ginger is also useful for nausea.”

Dr Mosam also suggests stocking up on vitamin C and zinc supplements if you’re not getting enough from your diet.

Tepid Sponging

This is using a cloth soaked in lukewarm water to sponge off a feverish person.

Tepid sponging can assist with reducing fever, however, Dr Mosam says under no circumstances should a person be put in extreme temperatures such as a hot bath or ice bath.

Although these may help to relieve symptoms in some mild to moderate cases, they will not prevent infection or cure disease. “The only treatment available for Covid in South Africa is hospital-based,” Dr Govender says.

“Treatment involves helping patients maintain oxygen levels in their body by using a face mask that is connected to an oxygen supply, or mechanical ventilation. There are also other drugs used in-hospital by qualified physicians who understand the doses, effects and circumstances that warrant their use,” says Dr Govender.

Dr Mosam advises that the best thing to do after contracting the virus, is to isolate at home for 10 days, at least, and stay as far as possible from other family members as well.

“There are no treatments to cure the virus but medications and home treatments can make the person more comfortable in the meantime,” she explains. “Additionally, they should not replace medical advice. Anyone who is feeling unwell should consult with health professionals.”

Community medicine specialist and medical doctor Professor Susan Goldstein told IOL that the most important thing is to monitor yourself and if you start having difficulty in breathing go straight to a hospital or doctor.

“Keep hydrated, drink water, keep taking your other meds if you are on meds. If you are diabetic, have renal failure, are HIV positive or have heart problems you should monitor yourself very closely and go for help at the slightest sign of symptoms,” said Goldstein.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says as with other viruses such as colds and flu, taking it easy and looking after yourself are crucial to your recovery..

The organisation offers the following advise:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Drink enough water so that your urine is a pale, clear colour. Avoid alcohol as this will make you more dehydrated.
  • Get plenty of rest. You should isolate yourself at home if you have any symptoms of coronavirus and avoid any strenuous activity while you are unwell.
  • Use over-the-counter medicines to treat some of your symptoms.

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