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  • Doctor Shares Homecare Tips To Help COVID Patients With Mild To Severe Symptoms

    The doctor shares that she's had severely ill patients who managed to recover at home.
    by Dahl D. Bennett .
Doctor Shares Homecare Tips To Help COVID Patients With Mild To Severe Symptoms
PHOTO BY Shutterstock/CGN089
  • The surge in COVID-19 cases has such overwhelming impact on the country's health system that practically each one of us knows of family or friends who needed to be admitted into a hospital but couldn't simply because there was no more room. This current situation pushes patients and families to manage on their own because when all options have been exhausted, homecare is the best thing to do.

    It is for this reason that Dr. Maria Cristina Alberto, has made it her mission to empower patients and their families to manage the disease from home. “Kasi sa community when you don’t have much resources, walang pera, you have to empower patients how to take care of themselves.”

    She points out, however, that even those with money to pay for hospitalization end up doing homecare as well. “Wala nang hospital kahit may pambayad ka pa,” she states the reality on the ground.

    “[It is important] to empower patients with COVID-19 on how to take care of themselves without the need to be admitted in a hospital,” says Dr. Alberto who has been treating COVID patients since March 2020 both through teleconsult and at the clinic where she is the chief clinician. She assures that it is possible to turn homes into ‘hospital homes’ especially when a patient has severe COVID-19 symptoms.

    Difference between mild, moderate, and severe COVID-19 symptoms

    What happens if a patient has no choice but to recover or fight COVID-19 at home? Dr. Alberto breaks it down by first determining whether a patient’s symptoms are considered mild, moderate, or severe.

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    Symptoms are mild if the patient manifests a slight cold, a fever that doesn’t go beyond 38 temperature reading, mild stomach ache or diarrhea. 

    “[All these symptoms may be present in a patient] pero dapat ang oxygen level niyan maganda pa rin. Nagagawa niya pa yung daily activities niya without assistance like pagkain, pag-ihi, etc.” explains Dr. Alberto.

    A patient is considered to have moderate symptoms if there is overall malaise or body pain. “Hihiga ka na, masakit ang muscles, mataas ang laganat at medyo may uubo-ubo,” she says.

    Severe symptoms, on the other hand, is when the oxygen levels go down beyond normal like 95 or below. “Ang pasyente ay nahihirapan nang huminga, may chest pain, may sensorial change, hindi  na nakakakilala, tulog na lang ng tulog, hindi mo magising,  or bumababa ang blood pressure,” enumerates Dr. Alberto.

    Ideally, a patient with severe symptoms must be brought to a hospital but unfortunately finding a room or getting admitted is a big hurdle these days. There is hope in homecare, though. Dr. Alberto shares she’s had severely ill patients who were already on oxygen but who managed to pull through as they recovered at home.

    Homecare for mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms

    Dr. Alberto breaks down the steps on what families can do at home if they or family members find themselves showing mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19.

    Isolate

    Basta may symptoms, whether or not may PCR swab test, kailangan mag-isolate agad,” Dr. Alberto says. She adds that it would be better if the isolation room is well-ventilated to reduce the concentration of the virus in the air.

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    Disinfect

    One can use UV or ultraviolet light — which is known to kill both virus and bacteria — chlorine, or detergent to disinfect the house once a member is suspected to have COVID-19.

    Dr. Alberto emphasizes on the need to disinfect the toilet because this is where the virus is likely to linger. Ideally, the patient has to have his or her own toilet, she adds.

    Contact trace 

    “Find out: Who else were exposed?” says Dr. Alberto. “If na-expose yung kapamilya ninyo, yung co-workers dapat makapag-isolate din sila to protect the other members of the community.”

    Consult

    Know how you can have access to a teleconsult. Be proactive by finding out with your barangay or having the number of your trusted doctor. Once you get access, your doctor can help you determine if your symptoms are mild, moderate or severe so they know the next steps to take.

    Homecare for severe COVID-19 symptoms

    For family members who need to take care of patients with severe symptoms at home, here is what they can do:

    Caregiver should protect him/herself

    Wear a mask and ang importante talaga ay handwashing,” emphasizes Dr. Alberto.  The room of the patient should also be well-ventilated, if possible.

    Turn your home into a hospital

    Rent an oxygen tank and have devices like a pulse oximeter and blood pressure monitor within reach. The doctor will advise the caregiver to record vital signs and then send to them to know the next steps to take.

    While known COVID medications like Remdesivir or Dexamethasone cannot be administered at home, a doctor may prescribe patients with medications like antibiotics to fight other infections like pneumonia.

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    Mobilize the patient

    “Force them to move,” says Dr. Alberto. “Kailangan umupo, mag breathing exercises, go out in a place where you will not infect other people and get some sunlight. Kasi, the more they lie down, the more naiipon yung phlegm and the more they develop pneumonia.”

    Eat healthy

    Avoid fatty and sugary foods. Note that people who are obese and with high cholesterol are more at risk for developing severe symptoms.

    Call family members for emotional support

    “Ang ibang patients kasi pag nalaman na may COVID, give up na sa laban,” shares Dr. Alberto. Often, this mindset makes it harder for patients to recover.

    Coupled with a positive mindset, there is a fighting chance for COVID-19 patients doing homecare. “I observed na those who are willing to fight and those with families who are cooperative, nakakasurvive kahit naka oxygen na,” says Dr. Alberto.

    A senior citizen who got infected with COVID-19 survived homecare. Read her story here.

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