By Helen Shih, PhD

Flow-of-Light Natural Health

Light up your body, mind, & soul

Self care when you are sick

1.  Self Diagnosis

COVID symptoms normally start off just like a regular flu. Please pay attention if you notice fatigue, itchy throat, muscle pain, headache, disturbed digestive system or sensory functions, or just in general, any discomfort. Continue to monitor your body conditions including those listed above, especially if you have other underlying health conditions.

If you start to experience COVID-like symptoms such as cough, fever, and others, use CDC's Self Checker to see the likelihood you are having a COVID infection, arrange for a test, and talk to your doctors. 

2. The disease process: think about 4 weeks (as a rule of thumb)
Week 1: In general, once you are exposed to the virus, incubation is about 2-14 days, with peak at 5-7 days. This is the 1st week. 
Week 2: Once you notice COVID-like symptoms, you may have mild symptoms for about 1 week (the 2nd week). This is the most important week you need to try your best to take rest, try your best to build immunity, and help your body ward off the virus (see note below).  About 85% of COVID cases are mild ones and people will recover by themselves. This depends on factors like age, health conditions, your immunity, existing health problems, and other factors scientists are actively studying about. 
Week 3: On your 3rd week, this is week that determines if you are relatively successful come out of COVID or may fall into more severe illness. If you are successful, you will start to recover, and gradually feel better. But be very careful that you may feel a sudden boost of energy, followed by sudden loss of energy. If there is one thing that is predictable for COVID, is the precarious nature and uniqueness of your own experience. This is why it is important you need to continue to monitor your condition and try to stay in balance. Put self care as your 1st priority. On the other hand, if you were unsuccessful in warding off the virus during the 2nd week, this is the week that can truly test your endurance and whether you may develop severe symptoms that some people may end up in ICUs. COVID patients have reported that this sudden loss of control could happen over-night or in a very unpredictable and fast way. This is why you cannot take it lightly, for example, if you feel good in one day and decide to do some heavy yard work, and next day, completely collapse and realize you have made a big mistake. If you have more severe symptoms this week, you will need to stay in constant contact with your doctors, and be prepared to be hospitalized to help your recovery.
Week 4: If you are successful in the 3rd week, this is the week that your body will try to return to its normal operation and learn to adapt a post-COVID time. Your antibody have started to function, but you will still need to continue to gain strength and help your body recover, especially nutrition wide (see note below). However, if you start to develop more severe symptoms in week 3, this is the week that you will have to fight through the disease with all your reserved function and energy. Your recovery process may be lengthened and may need more medical assistance than others with milder symptoms.  

3. Essential Steps in Self Care: The goal is to avoid severe illness

Given the above general outline of the disease process, the most important thing to do during the 4 weeks time above, is to give the 1st priority to your health. Consider the 4 weeks time window an exclusive time for your self care and recovery, so you can keep building up immunity to ward off the virus, and try to avoid falling into severe illness as much as you can (especially during week 2). Also, keep in mind that everyone experience COVID completely differently. So you will have to continue to monitor your condition and learn to take care of yourself. 

Below are some of the important steps:
    • Taking adequate rest and maintain high quality sleep; It would be the best if you can take a sick leave from your work, especially during week 2, as this is your most important week, determining if you can come out of COVID or may fall into a more severe case. 
    • If you absolutely have to work, take short naps during break, and give yourself time to relax and rest as much as possible. 
    • Practice stress reduction and pick effective methods that work for you; stress can cause a great harm to immunity;
    • Eat healthy if you have apatite, especially fresh fruits and vegetables; Avoid all junk food and soft drink; 
    • If you don't have apatite, for example, some people loose the sense of smell and taste, or may have fever and nausea/vomit/diarrhea during the course, then continue to supplement with nutrition, such as nutritious soup or broth, protein supplement, and other nutrition that your body can use during the time; 
    • Take plenty of liquid on daily basis, such as water with fresh lemon;
    • Take supportive medication or trusted herbs, including Vitamin C and D, etc; Check out our page on herbs and supplements that may be helpful for your conditions;
    • Keep yourself warm, especially if your body feels chill or have a mild fever; have sauna, warm salt bath, and other supportive care may be helpful; practice what you used to do that are helpful to treat flu in your past;
    • Have fresh air with proper ventilation to the outdoors (this is important also to reduce viral infection to other people you may be living with), give yourself some daily dose of sunshine, if weather permits.
    • Maintain a positive outlook and optimism; emotional and mental well-being is an important element enhancing immunity;

Again continue to monitor your body conditions, especially if you have other underlying health conditions.
  
References:
[1] WHO: Home care for patients with suspected novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infection presenting with mild symptoms and management of contacts.

[2] Caring for Yourself at Home (CDC information).

[3] CDC's guideline on COVID testing: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/testing/index.html