If you are recovering from COVID-19 or returned home from the hospital, you will face smaller battles every day until you get back to your routine life.
During and after COVID-19 treatment, you may experience some symptoms such as:
• Low energy levels and early fatigue
• Difficulty in breathing, and becoming breathless with even a little bit of physical activity.
• Chest Congestion and excessive phlegm.
• Cough with phlegm
• Loss of appetite and altered taste in mouth
• Lack of concentration
• Anxiety and Fear
Some of the symptoms will get better on their own, as time passes. Other symptoms will require patience and efforts from your side. However, the actual recovery may take a much longer time. People with serious complications need ICU care and ventilator support for breathing, which can take a toll on their physical as well as mental health in the longer run. In many cases, the person may need assistance to breathe even after coming off a ventilator. The patient may need a mask or a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) ventilator at home, which would provide the required oxygen support.
Managing your cough
Tips to manage a dry cough: A dry cough is likely to put greater strain on your throat. The following strategies can be used to manage dry cough
• Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water (lukewarm preferably)
• Take small sips of fluids instead of taking large sips to facilitate swallowing.
• Steam inhalation is necessary to cure a dry cough. So pour hot water into a bowl and put your head over the bowl and breathe in the steam. If comfortable, cover your head and bowl with a towel. You can also use a steam inhalation machine if you have one.
• Drink warm honey and lemon or another warm drink like kadha to soothe irritated throat
• Salt water gargle or Betadine gargle (1 part betadine & 3 part of water) can be effective for treating a sore throat.
• If you feel the need to cough but don’t have a soothing drink or water at hand, swallow repeatedly.
Tips to manage a productive cough: A phlegmatic or productive cough can become difficult to manage since you have to spit out the phlegm-filled sputum regularly. You should also ensure that the sink where you dispose of your sputum is regularly disinfected. The strategies are as follows:
• Keep yourself hydrated with lukewarm water, broths, soups, herbal teas and kadha.
• Take steam inhalation at least thrice a day to loosen the phlegm congested in your lungs.
• Lie on either the left or the right side, instead of lying on your back. This might help drain the phlegm faster.
Chronic fatigue is classified as fatigue lasting more than six weeks. The impact of fatigue is more than just lower productivity. You can manage your fatigue through following:
• Planning for demanding (physically, mentally) and repetitive tasks
• Regular staggered breaks during a day allow for both physical and mental restoration as well as social distancing
• Days off during the week
• Plan your day schedule to allow you a better plan for completing your work as well as sleep between work periods
• Movement makes the lungs function, and it can also move the phlegm to facilitate your spitting it out. So, try to be mobile by walking around your room.
Taking care of your emotional wellbeing
The experience of having COVID-19 can be very stressful with fear and anxiety. The disease may impact your emotional wellbeing along with your physical wellbeing. Psychological impact of infection can vary from immediate effects, like:
• Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on
• Fear of social stigma
• Irritability, anger, confusion
• Frustration, loneliness
• Denial, anxiety, depression, insomnia, despair
How to cope with this stress? Here are some things which you can do cope up the stress, fear and anxiety:
• Take a break from constant watching the news or limit the time for news
• Stay connected with your loved ones over audio or video calls
• Re-live your hobbies which you enjoy doing
• Take adequate rest
• Maintain healthy diet
• Do light exercises as your condition permits
• Do not hide your illness
• Speak accurately about the risk from COVID-19, based on scientific data and latest official health advice
• Share positive stories of those who have recovered from COVID-19
Disclaimer: These are the measures suggested as precautions and not a verified treatment. In case of emergency, reach out to your doctor and proceed as advised by them.