Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen
While scientists are working around the clock to develop one, at this point there is no specific treatment for COVID-19 (the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.) However, many of the symptoms of the virus can be treated. You should also follow any advice a healthcare professional gives you. If you get the virus, your healthcare professional will advise treatment based on your symptoms. Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness. You will also need to stay in isolation away from other people until you have recovered.
It is recommended that patients drink plenty of water. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help with symptoms such as pain or fever. Acetaminophen is usually recommended as the first-line treatment for most people. Before taking any medication you should read the full package leaflet that comes with your medicine.
Antibiotics do not work against coronaviruses or any other viruses. They only work against bacterial infections.
Supportive treatments (like oxygen therapy) can be given while your own body fights the virus, and a respirator and life support can be used in extreme cases.
Prevention currently seems like the best idea for COVID-19.
There are a number of rumors circulating about how COVID-19 can be avoided or treated. However, from the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in (or travel to) an area reporting COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
If you feel that you may have contracted COVID-19, stay home. Seek medical attention, but call first. Seek medical care right away if your illness is worsening (for example, if you have difficulty breathing.) It is recommended that you call your doctor before going in. Before going to the doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them your symptoms–they will tell you what to do and which emergency rooms are equipped to handle COVID-19.
In addition, in order to protect others and try to keep a safe distance from other people–at least 6 feet away. This will help protect the people in the office or waiting room.
People with COVID-19 who have stayed home (home isolated) can stop home isolation after undergoing a test to determine whether or not they are still contagious. It will also be necessary that you have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers), that your other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved), and at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared. In addition, the CDC guidelines state that you will have received two negative tests in a row, 24 hours apart.
In all cases, follow the guidance of your healthcare provider and local health department. Hopefully, a cure will be found in the not too distant future.
Ashely Alker, MD, MSc