The treatment is the same whether you have COVID-19, influenza or some other respiratory virus. The only difference for COVID-19 is you need to stay at home in isolation until you recover. You want to protect other people from getting COVID. Treat the symptoms that are bothering you the most. There is no anti-viral medication for treating COVID-19 and antibiotics are not helpful for viral infections. You don’t need to call or see your doctor unless you develop trouble breathing or have signs of dehydration.
If an individual is less than 8 weeks of age, please call your doctor. If an individual is 8 weeks to 6 months of age, and fever is above 102 F (39 C), you may provide acetaminophen. If an individual is greater than 6 months of age, and fever is above 102 F (39 C), you may provide acetaminophen or ibuprofen. For fevers 100.4-102 F (37.8 to 39 C), fever medicines are not needed. This is because fever turns on your body’s immune system. Fever helps fight the infection. However, if the patient also has pain, please treat fever for comfort. Click here for acetaminophen or ibuprofen dosing.
Offer cool fluids in unlimited amounts. Children often respond well to taking cold ice-pops or electrolyte ice-pops (such as Pedialyte Ice Pops) to prevent dehydration. Staying well hydrated helps the body sweat and give off heat. Staying well hydrated also helps loosens up any phlegm making it easier to cough up. If an individual is breast fed, please continue to offer breast milk often if tolerated. This is superior to providing electrolyte fluids or electrolyte ice pops. Please contact your physician if your child has not urinated at least 3 times in a 24 hour period.
Under 1 year: No homemade or over the counter cough medications. These are not safe in this age range.
Caution: Avoid honey until 1 year old due to risk of botulism.
1 to 3 years: May give warm clear fluids (e.g., apple juice or lemonade) to thin the mucus and relax the airway. Dosage: 1-3 teaspoons (5-15 ml) six times per day. Age 1 year and older: Use Honey 1/2 to 1 tsp (2 to 5 ml) as needed as a homemade cough medicine. It can thin the secretions and loosen the cough. OTC cough syrups such as Zarbees containing honey are also available. They are not more effective than plain honey and cost much more per dose.
6 years and older: Use Cough Drops (throat lozenges) to decrease the tickle in the throat. If not available, hard candy is acceptable. Avoid cough drops before 6 years of age due to risk of choking.
6 years and older: OTC cough medicines are not recommended as there is no proven benefit for children under 18 years of age. OTC cough medicines are not used because cough is a protective reflex and decreases risk of pneumonia. Honey has been shown to work better.
Isolation means separating sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. They are contagious and can spread their infection to others. (CDC) That means staying at home. Other family members should also stay at home on quarantine. Living with a suspected COVID-19 patient implies close contact has occurred. Do not allow any visitors such as friends or family that do not already live with you. Do not go to camp, daycare, school or work. Do not go to stores, restaurants, places of worship or other public places. Avoid public transportation or ride sharing. The patient needs to stay at home but does not need to be confined to a single room. Preventing spread of respiratory infections within a home is nearly impossible. The sick person should try to avoid very close contact with other family members. That includes hugging, kissing, sitting next to or sleeping in the same bed.
Protecting Others When You or Your Child are Sick
To protect others when you or your child are sick:
- Stay home from school or work if you are sick.
- Cough and sneeze into your shirt sleeve or inner elbow. Don’t cough into your hand or the air. If available, sneeze into a tissue and throw it directly into the trash can.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer, especially after coughing or sneezing, after touching your face or adjusting a mask.
- Don’t share glasses, plates or eating utensils.
- Wear a face mask when around others. Be a good example for your child while wearing a mask. Practice wearing a mask at home; it is a new “accessory” to wear when outside the home! Find a comfortable mask that fits your face well (covering your nose and mouth) and avoid touching your face and face mask after it is put on. Wash your hands or hand sanitize before and after putting on or taking off your mask, or adjusting your mask. Throw away your disposable mask directly in the trash can after it is used and launder cloth face masks after every use. Always wear a face mask if you have to leave your home (such as going to a medical facility) and always call first to get approval and careful directions.