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COVID-19 | SELF-CARE TIPS FOR THOSE IN SELF-ISOLATION

COVID-19 | SELF-CARE TIPS FOR THOSE IN SELF-ISOLATION

The COVID-19 virus is a rapidly spreading epidemic ravaging the world like wildfire but there is a glimmer of hope just in case you’re infected. Being infected doesn’t necessarily mean you’re dying. Self-isolation is the new order.

Correspondingly, today’s post guarantees self-care tips for those infected with the novel coronavirus who are in self-isolation, home care tips for caregivers, significant others, volunteers caring for coronavirus patients and many more.

According to data from a World Health Organization (WHO) research, turns out 81% of infected persons may not require hospitalization. This invariably means if you’re one of the unlucky 81 people of every 100 infected, you will recover without associated complications.

So, it’s safe to say that though the coronavirus is a deathly infection, the recovery rate is relatively high.

The war against this virus is far from over. As at the time of writing this post, the world has seen over a million confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus infections, with over 40,000 deaths. Health facilities are gradually becoming overwhelmed by the number of new cases every day. 

The White House task force on COVID-19 even projected that between 100,000 to 240,000 deaths might occur in the U.S., despite the current mitigating efforts. Even though, this number is just an estimate it’s frightening.

Is the world going to end?

This is hardly the first time; the world has survived numerous pandemics, some dating as far back as 165 AD, the Antonine plague also known as the Plague of Galen which claimed about 5 million lives. Pandemics instill fear, pandemonium and constitutes the greatest threat to the survival of the world.

But just like in times past during pandemics like this, caring for patients is usually not for health professionals only. Extra care is required from parents, spouses, relatives or volunteers.

Self-care is a responsibility not only for yourself but for others too. Nonetheless, it’s important to have a few tricks up your sleeve while caring for yourself in isolation. This would help in containing the coronavirus outbreak by breaking the transmission chain.

You must have heard from the media the various ways to curb the infection including; self-isolation, hand hygiene, social distancing, proper use of Personal Protective Equipment, PPE.

For someone already infected, your portion of the fight is more of a responsibility not to further spread the virus and to ensure compliance with palliative treatment to facilitate your recovery.

To reduce the death toll, health facilities all around the world in line with WHO recommendation tries to triage COVID-19 cases and identify the most vulnerable group such as the elderly, pregnant women and children in a bid to reserving that emergency treatment for patients based on disease severity.

WHO recommends the management of all laboratory-confirmed cases at isolated centers and cared for in a health care facility. Nonetheless, these centers all over the world are gradually becoming overawed with complicated cases such as those with severe acute respiratory infection who might need ventilators to stay alive.

Self-care tips for patients with suspected COVID-19 viral infection in self-isolation.

As you may be aware, the human body is capable of self-repair and protection against diseases and infections. Our immune system would possibly shield us from being infected by the COVID-19 virus if the organic building materials and processes that are meant to protect you from the disease are functioning optimally. 

However, if this defense mechanism fails, the result is an infection such as COVID-19. As of today, there is no specific medicine to prevent or treat coronavirus disease (COVID-19). People may need supportive care to help them breathe, relieve pain, psychological support, etc.

For patients with mild symptoms of COVID-19, hospitalization may not be necessary, even though it’s advisable to return to the hospital if the case becomes overwhelming. It’s important to monitor yourself or loved one close and ensure clear instructions on self-care in other to limit physical contact.

Nonetheless, patients who are above 65 years of age and those with underlying morbidities, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus, have an increased risk of severe disease and mortality. This subset of patients may present with mild symptoms yet have a high risk of worsening. Ideally, they should be admitted to a designated unit for close monitoring.

What is the self-care FAQ for COVID-19 patients?

Important things to note before self-isolation

In some regions, you may need to get an isolation note to your employer as proof that you need to stay off work for a while. This may be a health report from a general practitioner and can be done through someone or electronic media. While in other areas, movement is restricted. Some only permit skeletal services and ban non-essential services. This, however, makes self-isolation easy. But, if what you do for a living includes those described as essential duties, you’ll want to notify your employer about your self-isolation. Also, you may need to stock up supplies for food, medicines, toiletries etc.

Should I self-isolate at home until I’ve recovered?

Yes! Please do not leave your home for any reason.  Other than to exercise, which you can do say, once a day and early in the morning when everywhere is calm. It’s absolutely important to stay at least 2 meters (3 steps/6 feet) away from other people. Similarly, use online platforms when possible instead of going for that food or collect that medicine – order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home.

Be positive; limit your physical interaction with people as much as possible as avoiding visitors, such as friends and family, in your home. You can sit out in your garden if you have one. It’s very important to look after yourself at home, again, avoid leaving your home especially if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or live with someone who does.

In a situation where total isolation is absolutely impossible, restricting yourself to a portion of the house is advised. Use separate items such as cooking utensils, toiletries, protective devices, etc.

How long should I self-isolate?

Depending on the symptoms of coronavirus you’re having, you may need to isolate for 7 days. However, if after 7 days you do not have a high temperature, you do not need to continue to self-isolate. You’re probably not infectious. But, if you still have a high temperature after these 7 days, you must keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal.

Antipyretics such as paracetamol can help to soothe your aches and act as a temperature reducer. Similarly, you do not need to self-isolate if you just have a cough after 7 days. A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone. Wear a mask instead.

Can adequate rest and sleep help while in self-isolation?

Yes! According to Olson, M.D., adequate sleep can improve your immune system. Scientific studies have concluded that if you don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep, your immune system is likely going to falter and you’re more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus or SARs-CoV-2. However, lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.

It’s very remarkable how the body works, during sleep; your immune system discharges proteins called cytokines. Cytokines are responsible for promoting quality sleep, soothe inflammation as a result of an infection or when you’re under stress. Without good sleep, the production of this natural healing material would be decreased and in addition, other infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.

Will keeping my body warm at all times be useful?

This might sound weird or tricky. While you’re already infected with COVID19, but it might take a little longer for your body to recognize the infection, typically 1-14 days. Let’s not forget in a hurry that when someone contracts coronavirus, symptoms include fever.

It’s no longer news that the novel coronavirus spreads similarly to the influenza virus. This means small mucus droplets suspended in the air constitute a potent medium of transmission. Nevertheless, viruses lose infectivity because the particles lose structural integrity in hotter temperatures.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you wouldn’t be able to infect others, neither does it kill the virus, but it’s definitely going to slow down the rate of infection and replication in your body.

Does the Copious intake of fluids help to flush out toxins?

Hmm! Even though the COVID-19 pandemic started just a few months ago, presently, it has spawned numerous online fables and urban legends about how to evade it. This, of course, includes the myth that drinking water would flush the virus down into the acidic environment of the stomach and eventually killing the virus.

True, the stomach is acidic with a pH range between 1-3, but the novel virus is a more robust germ and can be found in feces too. This practically means the legend is less likely as your intestines can also be infected. That explains diarrheal symptoms of the sickness. Perhaps, researches looked at whether gargling with water might help to prevent upper respiratory infections, as this is a common practice in Japan.

Even that is less likely to be effective as coronavirus can also cause lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia. Besides, it’ll be risky to experiment now, but drinking water can actually help flush out toxins and keep your body cells hydrated. Yes, drinking water is essential during your isolation, not as a curative measure but recuperative measure.

Can the use of a humidifier and drinking hot fluid help ease a sore throat and cough due to COVID-19 infection?

Absolutely yes! One of the commonest symptoms of COVID-19 is a sore throat. While they tend to be quite painful, they often go away within a week of infection. While drinking hot fluids would not cure the infection or provide you with immediate relief, it might be an effective remedy for killing other bacteria that’ll probably worsen the infection while loosening mucus and easing pain.

Here’s a quick fix for you

  • Half a teaspoon of salt into 250 ml of warm water and gargle away.
  • Honey – unarguably, honey is one of the best remedies for a sore throat. It has the natural antibacterial properties that allow it to act as a wound healer.
  • Lemons are acidic and great for sore throats; it’s capable of breaking up the thick mucus in your airways and provides soothing pain relief. The Best part? It’s packed with vitamin C which can help to boost your immune system and give it more power to fight off your infection. Typically, a mixture of one teaspoon of lemon juice into a glass of warm water would provide that quick relief.
  • Aside from the response of your body to a COVID-19 infection, dry air, especially during the harsh or cold periods, maybe the cause of your sore throat. Investing in a humidifier is not totally a bad idea as this will keep the air moist and open your sinuses.
  • Similarly, you can add in a tablespoon or two of vapor rub or hydrogen peroxide solution to steam inhalation for additional relief.

Should we all use a mask to avoid spreading droplets during self-isolation?

Absolutely yes! Even though this might make you sloppy about other preventive measures like not touching your mask with your hands or acting on that impulse to scratch that itchy nose, you might be wondering- should you wear a mask all the time? Well, the answer is tricky, but it seems the COVID-19 outbreak has added a compulsory accessory to your fashion and style once you’re infected.

It’s absolutely important to wear a mask and prevent droplets from your mouth and nose from flying around and infecting others while you’re innocently talking, sneezing or coughing. It’s no longer news that COVID-19 can be spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or from coming into contact with an infected surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Consequently, there’s some evidence that COVID-19 may also be transmitted through little airborne droplets in very specific circumstances and settings, such as aerosolizing in the hospital

Should I restrict movement to a separate area of the room or house?  

Yes

Why?

While in self-isolation, it’s extremely important to maintain social distancing by keeping at least 2metres from others. Perhaps the novel virus is teaching us to respect other people’s social space and privacy. Ordinarily, viruses are not capable of doing anything on their own. They are simply shells with genetic instructions tucked inside.

It is when the virus invades a person or a host cell, then it uses that cell’s machinery to replicate itself, over and over again. Together we can stop its spread by breaking the chain of transmission to others.

If I am living with someone who has symptoms?

Well, without being told, if you live with someone who has symptoms or has directly cared for such a person without proper use of PPE, you’ll need to self-isolate for 14 days from the day their symptoms started. This is important because it can take 14 days for your symptoms to appear. Besides, it is not wise to care for a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 if you’re vulnerable or you’re above 65 years.

Nevertheless, if more than 1 person at home or around you has symptoms, please self-isolate for 14 days from the day the first person started having symptoms. Similarly, if you get symptoms, self-isolate for 7 days from when your symptoms start, even if it means you’re self-isolating for longer than 14 days. But without symptoms, you can stop self-isolating after 14 days.

What should I do after self-isolation?

Congratulations! You’ve stayed at home and you’ve contributed to saving the world, but you’ll still need to stay at home when you finish self-isolating. Now that the tension is relaxed, you can go out for essential services like hitting a medical store, grocery or market for supplies. Still, maintain all precautionary measures and obey social rules as prescribed by your government.

What if I have symptoms and living with someone vulnerable like my grandparents?

Well, it’s no longer news that COVID-19 virus takes a greater toll on the elderly, so, if you’re living with your granny, a cousin with a long-term condition or maybe your pregnant wife or a newborn baby with a weakened immune system, try to arrange for them to stay with friends or family for 14 days or totally, seclude yourself. Remember it’s your responsibility to protect them. If you have to stay at home together, try to keep 2 meters (3 steps/6 feet) away from each other. If possible, try not to share a bed or utensils.

How would I reduce the spread of infection at home?

Things to do:

  • Maintain proper hand hygiene – wash your hands with soap and often water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not readily available.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterward
  • Clean objects and surfaces you often touch (like door handles, kettles, and phones) using your regular cleaning products
  • Clean a shared bathroom each time you use it, for example by wiping the surfaces you have touched.

Things you should not do:

Do not share personal items such as bathrobes, towels, toothbrushes or any piercing object

Summarily, self-isolation is a precautionary measure to protect those around you – your family, friends, colleagues – from contracting COVID-19 by taking simple, common-sense steps to avoid putting others at risk. This, amongst others, will help flatten the curve and ease the burden on the health care system. If you cannot self-isolate at home, check-in at a self-isolation facility available in your vicinity.

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