By Debra Mabunda
We all have heard so much on how to prevent getting covid-19. Everyone has their own way. Others do not even believe it is there. The truth is all of us have been or will be exposed to this disease at one time in our life.
Like all other diseases, our response is different. For some, it will be mild with flu-like symptoms and might just last a day or two.
For others it might be a full blown cold all the symptoms there but the person is able to continue doing their day to day activities. These is termed the mild form of covid. For others the symptoms are present in full force with general body weakness. Might mean one stays in bed.
Chest pain and breathlessness is present but one is able to move and get out of bed without the world spinning. This is the moderate version. In a worst case scenario one is not able to get out of bed, headache, backache, loss of appetite and at times diarrhoea sets in.
Nausea and vomiting may be present. One is so breathless they cannot say a sentence without catching their breath. This is the severe version of covid19. The defining symptom of covid in all versions is the loss of taste and smell. With this symptom, one does not need testing. YOU HAVE COVID!
What happens? Covid like all viral infections has no cure, at least at the present moment. It’s treatment is symptomatic. That is to say one treats the symptoms.
Here are a few practical tips. Nothing fantastic, but believe you me they work. I’ve been there myself. The beauty is that they cost almost nothing.
- ISOLATE: This can be done at home with your family. By the way if you have the symptoms, those living with you are likely infected too even if they don’t show signs and symptoms. Don’t send children away, you will only be spreading the disease. For some reason best known by god, children seem to have some immunity to this disease. However that is not to say we need to expose them unnecessarily.
- REST: Rest as much as you can, but never sleep for too long. One feels very comfortable sleeping, the temptation is to continue doing so. Move around. If you have a lovely yard, get out for fresh air, but please stay within the confines of your home. Do not forget that when you go out, you are not only spreading the disease, but you might be increasing your viral load. Adding more to yourself and increasing the risk of going to the severe stage.
- PAIN: Take pain killers for pain. Paracetamol is recommended, however ibuprofen and its family are not recommended. It is not clear why.
- DRINK: Drink a lot of fluids , in particularly hot and warm fluids. The virus is said not to survive heat. Lemon and honey with ginger is recommended. However drink what agrees with you considering the nausea and vomiting. I personally do not recommend beer or spirits though because of their interaction with other drugs and their ability to numb the brain
- LOSS OF TASTE AND SMELL: This will come back on its own when healing takes place. Do not worry about it, but eat and drink as much as you can even if you cannot taste the food. Your strength relies on this.
- INHALATION: The chest will be congested as the virus tends to build thick mucus in the lungs, particularly the lower side of the chest. Inhale hot steam into your lungs. Put boiling water in a bowl, cover yourself and the bowl with a blanket and breath in the hot steam for as long as it remains hot. (Ukufutha) in Sindebele. You can add herbs of your choice including crushed leaves of the guava or lemon tree. This is also a way of preventing covid-19 infection. You could make this a habit that you do this procedure with your children every night before going to bed. This will eliminate most of the virus in your system.
- EXERCISE: Do breathing exercises as often as you can. Hold your breath for at least 20 seconds and then exhale. Repeat as often as you can. This helps to loosen the mucus and exercise the lungs. If breathlessness sets in, go on your knees with your bottom-up and your arms on the floor. Let your forehead rest on your arms. Breathe deeply and cough as much as you can. This dislodges the thick mucus at the base of your lungs and gravity makes it come out of your mouth helped by coughing. Oxygen intake is also increased. Do this at least three times a day.
- COUGH: No matter how painful, DO NOT TREAT THE COUGH. This is the body’s way of getting rid of the virus. Cough as much as possible even if it causes pain, however, use a tissue and bin it immediately. Wash your hands and try and avoid touching your face. The cough also exercises the lungs.
- GARGLE: Gargle with salt at least three times a day. This reduces the virus in your throat by changing the PH that the virus strives in. Apply hot compresses to the chest especially the back and the lower sides of the chest. Again this loosens the mucus and reduces pain in the chest.
- ONLY seek hospitalisation when you are failing to breathe, but do not wait for too long. Going early simple means you are exposing yourself to more infection and also risking other people. REMEMBER there is no known CURE for covid-19.
Prevention is better than cure. Practise social distancing, wear a mask if you can’t distance, wash your hands with soap and water as often as you can, use a sanitiser where water and soap is not readily available. STAY HOME IF YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS OUTSIDE!