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Coronavirus treatment

Understanding coronavirus treatment guidelines

Once you're sure - or as sure as you can be - that you have COVID-19, the first step is to self-isolate.

As the NHS is under a lot of strain at the moment, you don’t need to contact your GP or 111 to let them know you have coronavirus or ask about treatment.

There is no known treatment for COVID-19 at the moment; as COVID-19 is a virus not a bacteria, it can’t be treated with antibiotics.

If you think you have coronavirus the NHS Advises self-care at home to try and make yourself as comfortable as possible.

The current estimate is that around 80 percent of people who test positive for the illness will only have mild symptoms.

The majority of these will be expected to stay at home and recover to stop them from infecting anyone else at a GP surgery, hospital or when going about their daily activities. It’s particularly important to help prevent vulnerable people from catching the virus.

The symptoms

The main symptoms of Covid-19 are a new, continuous cough and a high temperature. Some people may experience other symptoms too, but the NHS state that you should start to self-isolate if you experience either of these.

It’s very important not to leave your home, especially not to see your GP.

Monitor your symptoms

As soon as you suspect you’ve contracted coronavirus you should look on the dedicated coronavirus NHS 111 website for more information. The website will take you through a series of questions to help you determine the severity of your symptoms and whether or not you need to speak to someone.

It’s important to use this service when you feel your symptoms get worse. If they last for longer than 7 days you should call 111.

It differs by region, but once you’ve made contact you should expect regular calls from a doctor to check on your symptoms, especially if you’re classed as ‘vulnerable’.

How to treat the symptoms

According to the World Health Organisation:

"To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care. Some specific treatments are under investigation, and will be tested through clinical trials. WHO is helping to accelerate research and development efforts with a range or partners."

The only thing you can do at the moment is try to relive your symptoms. The advice is to treat it as you would a cold:

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Take paracetamol for pain relief and to try to control your temperature
  • Try to rest as much as you can
  • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables

Antibiotics aren’t effective against COVID-19 as it’s caused by a virus not a bacteria.

If you have any doubts at all you should speak to your doctor or call NHS 111.

Busting the myths

There is currently no evidence that multivitamins or vitabiotics have any effect on Covid-19, over and above keeping you generally healthy.

There have been reports that ibuprofen makes coronavirus worse. Whilst there is no strong evidence this is the case, the NHS advises you stick to paracetamol unless your doctor has told you it isn't suitable for you. If you’re already taking ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) on the advice of a doctor, you shouldn’t stop taking it without checking first.

If your symptoms get worse

In a small percentage of cases coronavirus can lead to difficulty breathing. This is usually for older patients and those with underlying health conditions.

If this happens you will usually be advised to go to hospital. This was also be the case if your fever is very high and you can’t take care of yourself.

In either of these cases, do not go straight to hospital: use the dedicated coronavirus NHS 111 website or call 111 for them to assess you and advise on next steps.

Looking after your mental health and wellbeing

If you’re feeling ill and self-isolating it’s important to keep your spirits up. Try to keep in touch with friends and family, even if it can only be over a video call or social media. If you feel up to it, keep yourself busy with activities like watching a movie, reading or listening to a podcast.

As soon as you feel up to it, it’s also important to keep your body active with some light exercise.

When should you self isolate?

The government advice on social distancing and self-isolating has changed over the past few weeks and it can be hard to understand what you’re supposed to do and how long for. To make sense of it, use our simple tool to help decide if and how long you need to isolate for.

We also have an Understanding Isolation Guide with details on what the guidelines say as well as tips for your mental and physical wellbeing.

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