Treating COVID-19 symptoms at home: SoCal doctor explains what you need to know

Denise Dador Image
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Doctor explains how to best treat COVID-19 symptoms at home
Once you test positive for COVID-19, what should you do next? A Southern California doctor explains what you can do.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Once you test positive for COVID-19, what should you do next? Doctors say staying on top of any changes in your symptoms and taking the proper precautions is a good start, but doctors who have been treating patients' recovery at home say there are other things you can do to boost your immune system.

Shortly before Christmas, 43-year-old Juliana Shain of Simi Valley tested positive for COVID-19. Five days later, the same would happen to her fiancé.

"I felt like I had been beaten up. I felt really hungover," she said. "We had aches and pains then a cough and then sneezing. Really at the end of it, we had difficulty breathing."

Fear of being hospitalized soon set in. Internal medicine specialist Dr. Aamir Iqbal with Agoura Family Practice says he's been getting several calls a day from frantic patients.

COVID 'long haulers': Some who first saw mild symptoms experiencing debilitating problems months later

Many patients who initially experienced milder COVID-19 symptoms are now showing up at the doctor's office months later with debilitating problems. They're being called "long-haulers."

"When you've tested positive it's a big moment. A lot of people get very scared and nervous about what's going to happen," he said. "What do I do? Or my husband tested positive or my spouse tested positive or my kid tested positive and now I live with them."

Iqbal's first suggestion is to buy an over the counter pulse oximeter.

"It's a little device that attaches to your finger and right on top of the screen it has a percentage," he said. "When you get below 94% that starts throwing up some flags. And any number under 90% is a big red flag."

He suggests hydrating with beverages such as Pedialyte or Gatorade. Shain's doctor told her to take a cocktail of supplements.

"The doctor gave us a bunch of vitamins," she said. Shain started taking Vitamin C, B12, D3 and zinc.

RELATED: This device may be helpful if you're healing from COVID at home

With emergency rooms overflowing at hospitals across California, many people are trying to manage their COVID-19 infections at home with a device that can be found in most pharmacies.

"Some of these home remedies can actually help. We know they can't hurt you," Iqbal said.

He also suggested over the counter medicines such as acetaminophen, mucus thinners and a baby aspirin to prevent blood clots.

"While the baby aspirin doesn't equivalent to a full blood thinner medication, it can give you some protection," Iqbal said.

Studies show sleeping on your stomach helps get more oxygen to your lungs. Iqbal said if its comfortable try it, but he tells his patients it's not a requirement.

Some advice online includes waking up every two hours to get your blood circulating. To that Iqbal said quality sleep is much more important As for eating more bananas, avocados or asparagus, he said good nutrition is important but food alone can't stop worsening symptoms.

A month after her infection, Shain is back at work

"I feel exhausted, and I still have some brain fog," she said.

She hasn't mustered enough energy to take down her Christmas decorations and Shain had to postpone her wedding day. But, she's grateful to be on the mend.

"Just be kind to yourself. Take it one day at a time and you'll get through it," she said.