While we’re doing all we can to avoid Covid-19, it’s normal to worry about how we’d care for ourselves if we became infected. That’s why advice from doctors who’ve gotten sick and recovered is invaluable. Here are their top that helped them recover from Covid faster.
Steam in the a.m.
A hot soak first thing followed by Vicks VapoRub helped urgent-care physician Jehanne Julien-Banica, D.O., of New York feel better while she was battling Covid. “A 15-minute bath calmed the cough that hit when I woke up,” she says. And applying the rub to her chest eased the burning sensation when she breathed. Plus, studies show steam reduces the airway inflammation that triggers coughing, while camphor, eucalyptus and menthol in the rub open nasal passages.
Sip a smoothie.
A body dealing with Covid breaks down muscle for energy to keep its systems running, says Sanjay Dogra, M.D., a pulmonary critical-care specialist in Michigan. “But getting enough protein builds muscle, so you feel less tired.” That’s why he added protein powder to berry smoothies daily when he was ill. An added benefit: Research in the Journal of Functional Foods found berries stimulate the immune system to fight viruses.
Try a new sleep position.
Pushing past tiredness to change positions in bed and sit upright helped Michael Cascarina, M.D., breathe easier. He credits it with helping him recover from Covid faster. (Pro tip: Wedge pillows can help you sleep comfortably at an incline.)
Even if it’s just walking to the kitchen, keep active. “I tried to stay out of bed except for naps and sleeping at night,” John DeTullio, M.D., a pulmonologis t/criticalcare physician in New Jersey who recovered from Covid, has said. He clocked at least 3,000 steps daily from his bedroom during his recovery. Staying active “exercises” the lungs and helps them expand, keeping them strong.
Keep this useful tool nearby.
Feeling winded is scary, says pulmonologist Dr. Dogra, so it can give folks peace of mind to monitor oxygen levels at home. A pulse oximeter, which clips onto the fingertip, measures blood oxygen levels. Dr. Dogra says readings of 92 percent and above signal all is well. Call your doctor if readings dip below 90 percent.
Lie this way.
While resting, Dr. DeTullio lay on his stomach. This opens air sacs deep within lungs to prevent pneumonia-causing secretions from collecting there. What’s more, studies suggest this strategy (called proning) may help boost oxygen levels in Covid patients. Need a cushion? These pillows for stomach sleepers that can make your recovery from Covid more comfortable.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.