Early Covid-19 treatment guidelines: A practical approach to home-based care for healthy families

About this guide

This is an up-to-date guide to managing Covid-19 illness effectively at home. Covid should be treated early, with a combination of therapies, and treated aggressively to avoid the more serious consequences of the illness.

As Covid-19 is a new condition, this guide is informed by both established and emerging medical research as well as the clinical experience of international doctor-led groups; it will evolve as new evidence emerges.

The safe, established, and patent-free medicines and supplements included in this guide may have differing availability around the world. For that reason, a variety of medicines are included. Expensive, new drugs (such as monoclonal antibody treatments) are not considered here.

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A comprehensive guide to at-home prevention and treatment of Covid-19 written by medical experts. All the latest information you need in one place…
  • What are the symptoms (updated with the latest evidence)
  • Treating symptoms at home to avoid hospital
  • Printable medicines and diet to support recovery

Who is this guide for?

Anyone can get Covid, whether they’ve had a Covid shot or not. The good news is that the illness is easily treated, and most people will recover within a few days or weeks.

If you or a family member have had a positive test or have symptoms suggestive of Covid-19, here is a practical guide to help you recover quickly. This guide is designed for people who are generally healthy and not taking other daily medications.

In this guide, we will answer the questions:

We aim to empower you with information on practical, accessible medicines and therapies that will help you beat Covid-19 and get you back to living your life.

This guidance will evolve as new information emerges, so please sign up for email updates to keep abreast of the latest developments on treating this new infectious disease.

Disclaimer

We envision a world where you are empowered to take control of your health. This resource is a living guideline and will change as new evidence emerges. It does not provide individual medical advice or prescribe treatment. Rather, it is intended as a resource to empower patients and their families with knowledge of healthcare options that may be beneficial to them. Readers should consult the physician(s) of their choice for individual medical evaluation and recommendations for treatment tailored to their individual needs.

What are the symptoms of Covid-19?

The Covid-19 pandemic is the result of a virus called the SARS CoV-2 virus. People infected with the virus will show any combination of the following:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Source: CDC

If you have a positive Covid test or mild Covid-like symptoms

The first thing you should do is let your doctor know. Stay home, rest, drink lots of water, and follow the at-home guidance below. Early treatment will prevent disease progression.

If you have difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, chest heaviness, or are experiencing a sudden worsening of your symptoms, go to the hospital.

Covid-19 has 3 distinct phases

Much has been learned about Covid-19 since it was first identified. Scientists and clinicians now recognize 3 different parts of the illness.

1. The Viral Phase (Day 1 – 5)

During the viral phase of the illness, the SARS-CoV-2 virus replicates rapidly in the body. Someone in the viral phase of the illness can expect flu-like symptoms such as fever, joint and muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of appetite, loss of taste/smell, nausea, diarrhea, and weakness.

Covid-19 transmission is highest during the viral phase of the illness, so avoid contact with people during this phase of the illness. It’s important to note that asymptomatic people (those who test positive without symptoms) are unlikely to transmit the virus.

2. The Inflammation Phase (Day 5 – 10)

During the inflammation phase, your body’s immune system response has geared up to fight the infection. A person in this phase of Covid-19 may continue to experience flu-like symptoms. Symptoms may progress to inflammation in lung cells leading to feelings of breathlessness, coughing, difficulty breathing and possibly pneumonia. If you are having difficulty breathing, you should go to the hospital. Covid-19 transmission is still possible during this phase.

3. The Hyper-inflammation/Clotting Phase (Up to 30 days)

Without early treatment, sometimes the symptoms progress into what’s known as the hyper-inflammation or clotting phase or severe Covid-19. At this time, an infected person may experience additional symptoms, including chest heaviness/pain, further breathing difficulties, and blood clotting.

Anyone in this phase of the illness MUST go to the hospital. Your doctors will monitor and treat these symptoms.

Useful Equipment

Having a thermometer at home is useful to check whether you have a fever. A temperature over 37.5°C that makes a person feel unwell can be treated with acetominophen (paracetamol).

A pulse oximeter is a small piece of equipment clipped onto a finger to measure the oxygen saturation of the blood. It is non-invasive and, in the context of Covid-19 illness, the test results are used to determine whether a person needs to be admitted to the hospital and/or receive additional oxygen support. If you have access to a pulse oximeter, a threshold of 94% indicates you are not getting enough oxygen and should go to the hospital.

A nebuliser is a device that turns a solution into a mist, which then gets breathed in through a mouth piece or mask. It can be useful to deliver solutions such as saline to help with phlegm. Some international doctors also recommend nebulised colloidal silver, which has antiviral properties, and sodium bicarbonate solutions for Covid-19.

What can I use to treat Covid-19 at home?

Over the course of the coronavirus outbreak, much has been learned by doctors and scientists around the world, and we now know how to treat Covid-19 at home. With early treatment, the risk of death goes down dramatically. It’s a good idea to be prepared with simple medicines and therapies before you or your family members get sick.

The 5-tiered approach to treatment

The spike protein is a major component of the virus. It is toxic and affects the body in several different ways which is why it’s important to use a combination of the therapies to fight coronavirus disease. Infected individuals should use a combination of therapies that:

  • support the immune system
  • target the virus (antivirals/antimicrobials)
  • reduce inflammation in the body (anti-inflammatories)
  • reduce the risk of blood clots (anticoagulants)
  • provide symptomatic relief for headaches, fever, cough, etc.

Most recommended therapies and medicines play more than one of these roles in the fight against Covid-19. Depending on availability in your area, prepare to treat with an agent in each of these five categories to maximize the chance of a speedy recovery.

1. Antiviral or Antimicrobial Medicines

Ivermectin

Ivermectin has antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and immune-supportive properties. This means that ivermectin can be used in all phases of COVID illness, from early asymptomatic infection to more severe illness, including for hospitalized Covid-19 patients.

For early treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection at home, the recommended dose is 0.2 – 0.4mg per kilogram of body weight per day. In addition to being influenced by body weight, dosing might also be affected by the severity of the coronavirus infection and the virulence of the variant.

Ivermectin is widely used as an anti-parasitic medicine and, as such, is available in some countries over-the-counter (OTC). It comes in 3mg, 6mg, and 12mg tablets. Some countries also have it available as a liquid suspension.

For non-hospitalized adults of average body weight (between 50 to 80kgs), the dose of ivermectin is one to three 12mg tablets daily with food for five days. Longer treatment or higher doses may be necessary, but this should be discussed with a doctor.

Side effects include nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, and rash. These tend to be mild and usually resolve upon discontinuation. Ivermectin is not recommended for use in children under 5 or pregnant women (particularly in the first trimester) without the advice of a doctor.

If you take blood-thinning medication, please consult a doctor before taking ivermectin as ivermectin also has blood-thinning properties.

Mouthwashes and nasal rinses

Because so much virus is carried in your mouth and nasal passages, it is useful to rinse them once or twice a day with a sodium bicarbonate mixture or a mouth wash. Rinsing can also provide symptom support for those with excess mucus and phlegm.

Other anti-viral treatments to discuss with your doctor

Doxycycline

Doxycycline is an antimicrobial drug commonly used to treat acne and Lyme Disease and prevent malaria. As it also has potent antiviral properties, many Covid care experts use doxycycline (100mg every 12 hours for 7 days) and ivermectin together in early infection.


Hydroxychloroquine

Hydroxychloroquine is a widely used anti-malarial drug. Its antiviral properties make it a useful alternative to ivermectin in the early treatment of Covid-19 at standard doses (200mg every 12 hours for 7 days). In settings with more virulent Covid strains (e.g. Brazil), Covid care experts sometimes use hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin together.


Antibiotics (for symptoms related to lungs)

If you develop chest symptoms, your doctor may need to prescribe you an antibiotic to prevent or treat suspected pneumonia.

2. Anti-inflammatory medicines

Neutrophil, a white blood cell, 3D illustration. The most abundant type of granulocytes has phagocyting activity, takes part in inflammation

Anti-inflammatory medicines include steroids (e.g., budesonide, prednisone, dexamethasone, methylprednisolone), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (e.g. ibuprofen and aspirin), and certain other well-established medicines (e.g. colchicine and ivermectin).

Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is used to treat pain by reducing inflammation in the body. It is available for general use in most countries and helps to reduce the inflammation associated with Covid-19.

N-acetylcysteine and Glutathione

Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that is found in most cells of the body. Its role is to protect cells by neutralizing toxins. Glutathione often becomes depleted during periods of illness.

N-acetylcysteine is a drug that breaks down toxic substances by replenishing glutathione. N-acetylcysteine also helps loosen thick mucus in the inflammatory phase of Covid illness (Source).

Antihistamines

Antihistamines are usually used to treat allergies. They work by blocking the action of histamine; a chemical released when you have an allergic reaction. Oral antihistamines such as loratadine and cetirizine, commonly used OTC medicines for hayfever and rash, may help prevent an allergic immune response (mast cell activation) to the spike protein.

Other anti-inflammatory treatments to discuss with your doctor

Steroids

Steroids are available by prescription only. Your doctor may prescribe budesonide, prednisone, dexamethasone, and methylprednisolone to help reduce inflammation during infection of Covid-19.

3. Immune-supportive medicines and supplements

Many nutritional supplements like Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, Quercetin, Melatonin, Glutathione, and N-acetylcysteine have powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-balancing properties. These therapies are simple, generally safe, and accessible for home-based treatment, and they do not require a prescription.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an important role in immunity. A deficiency in Vitamin D has been correlated with more severe Covid-19 illness. Maintaining good levels of this vitamin is critical for Covid-19 prevention and treatment. The oily Vitamin D capsule is preferable to the tablet form, but you may use whatever is available and affordable. Vitamin D is best absorbed with a meal.

Vitamin D can also be produced by the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. Getting daily sunshine is vital for both the prevention and treatment of Covid-19.


Vitamin C and Zinc

Similarly, Vitamin C and Zinc have antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties and are used in various viral illnesses, including Covid-19. Vitamin C can be found in many fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits, or taken as a supplement. Zinc is available in foods like beef, chicken, and fish but, in the context of Covid infection, you should use a zinc supplement to ensure adequate levels are achieved.


Quercetin

Quercetin is a plant pigment or flavonoid widely available in fruit and vegetables, most notably parsley, berries, onions, apples, and citrus fruit. Quercetin can be taken as a supplement to help support the immune system during an infection.


Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone made in the pineal gland in the brain. Studies show that melatonin reduces cytokines (proteins associated with inflammation) and improves sleep quality which is vital during a viral illness. Cherry juice contains low levels of melatonin. When used as a supplement, melatonin is best taken before bed.


Glutathione

Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that is found in most cells of the body. Its role is to protect cells by neutralizing toxins. During periods of illness, glutathione often becomes depleted.


4. Anticoagulant medicines

A dangerous feature of severe Covid-19 is blood clotting. Anticoagulant medications are used to prevent blood clots from forming in the legs, lungs, heart, and other parts of the body.

Aspirin

As a cheap and widely available medicine, daily aspirin is recommended for early Covid-19 infection to prevent this serious complication from occurring. Aspirin has been in use for a long time for various health conditions and is available as an over-the-counter medicine. Its role in Covid-19 is to inhibit platelet aggregation which reduces the risk of blood clotting. It also reduces inflammation and treats headaches.

Other anti-coagulants to discuss with your doctor: Enoxaparin, heparin and rivaroxaban

Enoxaparin is used for the prevention of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Because of its action in preventing blood clots, it can help treat worsening Covid-19. Enoxaparin and heparin are given by injection. Heparin is usually reserved for hospital use. Rivaroxaban is an oral anti-clotting medication that your doctor may prescribe for use at home.

5. Symptom support

Many over-the-counter medicines and home remedies can relieve symptoms and help a person feel more comfortable, including cough mixtures, antihistamines, acetaminophen (paracetamol, Tylenol), and nasal sprays, mouthwashes, and other mucus-reducing agents. Saline or sodium bicarbonate solutions are effective and easy to prepare. Alternatively, to get rid of mucus in your lungs, you can try inhaling some stream with a tea towel over your head. Ginger and honey can help to relieve coughing – try a ginger tea with hot water and fresh ginger.

Remember: treat early with a variety of therapies

The aim is to choose one treatment from the following categories: antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant medicines (aspirin). Aspirin is the only anticoagulant to be safely used at home. In addition, choose several simple immune-supporting therapies, and other medicines that will make you more comfortable during infection.

The medications and therapies you choose will depend on availability in your area. Use what is affordable and available to you. You don’t need to take all of them!

Remember to speak to your doctor about your treatment plan.

Rest often

Remember that the vast majority of people recover from Covid-19. Treat early and get plenty of rest, sunshine, and fresh air to reduce your illness’s length and severity. Do not be in a hurry to resume your usual activities, e.g. going to the gym and social engagements – doing so may set your recovery back. Rather, allow yourself a full two weeks to recuperate. Contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

When do I need to go to the hospital with a Covid infection?

SARS-CoV-2 infections range in severity. Some people will have no symptoms, some will have mild symptoms, and some will have severe symptoms that require hospitalization. Whether you have a confirmed Covid-19 infection or not, don’t delay seeking advice from a medical professional. Early treatment is key to prevent severe Covid-19.

Consult your doctor or health authority:

  • if you are worried about your symptoms
  • if you are unsure what to do
  • for information on early treatment options

Adults should go to the hospital if they:

  • are short of breath
  • are light-headed (this can be a sign of decreased oxygen in your blood)
  • are having difficulty breathing
  • are experiencing chest heaviness or pain
  • have bluish lips
  • persistent fever or other symptoms for more than 7 days since onset

Children should go to the hospital if they:

  • are not interested in eating or breastfeeding
  • have a blue tinge to their lips
  • are confused
  • have shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Source: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/media-resources/science-in-5/episode-36—safe-care-at-home

Be prepared and keep a supply of basic medicines and therapies at home for your family

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on physical and mental health across the world. Still, as we learn more about the illness, we can better treat and manage it so that severe illness is increasingly rare. The most important things you can do are to be prepared, take care of your immune system, and treat early using a combination of therapies that attack Covid from a variety of different angles.

Download this FREE PDF Guide

A comprehensive guide to at-home prevention and treatment of Covid-19 written by medical experts. All the latest information you need in one place…
  • What are the symptoms (updated with the latest evidence)
  • Treating symptoms at home to avoid hospital
  • Printable medicines and diet to support recovery

And remember, it’s important to:

  • Maintain a healthy immune system with good nutrition, fresh air, and simple supplements like Vitamin D, C, Zinc, and Quercetin.
  • Use the medicines and supplements that are available to you.
  • Be prepared! Keep a good supply of healthy food, supplements, and medicines so you will be ready if you become infected.
  • Treat Covid-19 early if you become symptomatic or receive a positive test. Early treatment helps reduce the severity and duration of Covid-19 infection.
  • Treat Covid-19 using a combination of therapies that address the complex nature of the illness:
    • Antiviral/antimicrobial therapies such as ivermectin
    • Anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen and N-acetylcysteine
    • Immune-balancing medicines and supplements such as Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, Quercetin, and Melatonin
    • Anticoagulant medicines such as aspirin
    • Symptom support such as cough mixtures, acetaminophen, nasal sprays, and mouthwashes
  • Seek advice from your doctor if you are concerned about Covid-19 symptoms or for early treatment options.
  • GO TO THE HOSPITAL if you are short of breath, have difficulty breathing, or are experiencing chest heaviness or pain.
  • Take care to rest and resume normal activities slowly after a COVID-19 infection.

For the latest Covid-19 information or to learn more about early treatment options, please visit our affiliate sites:


Summary of the medicines used to treat Covid-19

This list of medicines comprises over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medicine for you to share with your doctor.

Be sure to read the patient information leaflet before using any OTC medicines to check whether they are suitable for you as an individual, especially if you are pregnant. Aspirin and ibuprofen are not suitable for pregnant women, particularly in the last trimester of pregnancy. If your symptoms persist beyond 7 days, you feel your condition is worsening, your condition deteriorates suddenly, or if you are short of breath, contact your doctor or go to the emergency room. 

If you need to go to see a doctor or go to the hospital, print this list of medicines out and take it with you.

Don’t forget:

The aim is to choose one treatment from the following categories: antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant medicines (aspirin). Aspirin is the only anticoagulant to be safely used at home. In addition, choose several simple immune-supporting therapies, and other medicines that will make you more comfortable during infection.

The medications and therapies you choose will depend on availability in your area. Use what is affordable and available to you. You don’t need to take all of them!

Drink lots of water, take lots of rest, eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and get daily sunshine. Allow yourself at least two weeks to recover without strenuous activity. Do not expect to resume your usual exercise regimen and social engagements for at least two weeks. A positive attitude is essential!

Immune Support

Immune Support Medicines

Antiviral/antimicrobial

Antiviral/antimicrobial Medicines

Anti-inflammatory

Anti-inflammatory Medicines

Anticoagulant

Anticoagulant Drugs (as prescribed by your doctor)

Symptom support for mucus

System support remedies for mucus

Symptom support for fever

System support remedies for fever

Symptom support for cough

System support remedies for cough

Symptom support for aches and pain

System support remedies for aches and pain

Other prescription medicines

Other prescription medicines

Equipment

*By prescription only in most countries.

All listed therapies are given orally unless otherwise stated.

Ivermectin is also anti-inflammatory and immune-supporting. Similarly, several of the items listed under Immune Support also have anti-inflammatory and/or antiviral properties, e.g. neem and Lugol’s iodine.

Mouth and nasal hygiene solutions can be bought over-the-counter but a simple solution of sodium bicarbonate, salt, and purified water can be made at home.


This article was reviewed by

Dr. Naseeba Kathrada, MD
Dr. Pierre Kory, M.D., M.P.A.
Dr. Tess Lawrie, MD, PhD
Dr. Peter A. McCullough, MD, MPH

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