Tips for Actively Surviving COVID-19*

*(or something that resembles COVID-19, but I can’t get a test because I’m not a critical patient in the US so it could be something else but I doubt it.)

There are plenty of articles about how to attempt to avoid COVID-19 and the horror stories of trying to recover from it, but I haven’t found any great resources on how to actively fight it while infected. I’ll outline some potential tips that *might* help. Some of them are obvious, a few are based observations from reading articles, others might be a bit unique. Remember I am not a doctor and I make no guarantees, but something is better than nothing in this case.  Use your own common sense and work within your abilities and remember to STAY POSITIVE!  YOU CAN GET THROUGH THIS!

Focus

This disease is known to primarily effect the lungs, over time causing lung failure.  This in part happens because of buildup in the lungs that isn’t being expelled efficiently.
There are also other side effects that makes it hard to actively fight the disease, such as fatigue, body aches, headaches, and stomach aches.  With all these, you will need to do your best to actively fight through.  This is virus bootcamp for your body, and unfortunately it’s a multi-day obstacle course.
Much like a bootcamp or obstacle course, you need to get your body in top shape, or at least keep it in the best shape while going through this.  Hopefully the tips below will be a guide, or at least a starting point if you are completely lost.

Vitamins, Minerals, and Medication

  1. I would recommend taking a daily multivitamin.  Right now it’s harder to get all the foods you might normally have, and at least a daily multivitamin will give you a daily does of a variety of these macronutrients.  Something is better than nothing.
  2. Make sure you get zinc.  Your body needs zinc to maintain the immune system. Don’t overdo it though, too much will have the opposite effect.
  3. Get your vitamin C one way or another – fruits and veggies, supplement, whatever.  When you’re sick you need vitamin C.  Common knowledge.
  4. Protein.  You’ll want a lot of it.  Probably not bulk-up protein powder levels, but something to keep your body maintained while it fights this war inside.  For some people you’ll feel completely worn down and sore, and exhaustion can make your heart race even while just laying down.  You might be running a marathon while sitting in place, so prep for it!
  5. Sudafed, Mucinex and Tylenol are your friends.  Generic names are pseudoephedrine (the good stuff behind the counter, not phenylephrine unless it’s your only choice), guaifenesin, and acetaminophen.  I recommend getting them separately so you can add/remove individual drugs as needed.  Those combo “cold and cough” medicines usually include lower doses of multiple drugs which won’t be as effective when you need to pack a punch.    It’s also important to understand the main purpose of each:
    Acetaminophen:  General pain killer, fever reducer.  Broken down by the liver, so avoid taking more than recommended dose unless approved by your doctor.
    Guaifenesin:  Expectorant.  Loosens mucous in the chest and throat.
    Pseudoephedrine:  Decongestant.  Dilates nasal passages, allowing clogged passages to possibly flow.  Important if you are having sinus pain and pressure.  If you can’t afford it, then get the other two drugs first.
  6. Avoid NSAIDS like ibuprofen, Advil, etc.   Generally I prefer them over Tylenol, but there’s some evidence that these have some bad side effects in this case. You can read more about this recommendation elsewhere to see if it has changed and all the details involved.

Diet

  1. Fluid intake is probably the most important thing.  You want to take in MORE than you are probably used to on a daily basis.  My general rule is that if you feel like you need to pee once an hour then you are doing decent.  Water is your best friend.  You can consider sports drinks occasionally, but you will overload your body with sugars and other chemicals if you drink too much.  WATER IS YOUR FRIEND.  Drink it when you feel empty.  Drink it when you feel like you can’t drink any more.  Drink it when on the 5th day you are totally tired of this whole thing and just want to stop drinking water ever again.  You WILL get there!
    Note that if you drink TOO much water and don’t have a good balance of nutrients in your body it can also be a bad thing, so see below about also eating.
  2. You HAVE to keep eating.  Even if you have a loss of appetite you have to keep eating.  Your body needs those nutrients and calories to fight this off.  Fresh fruits and veggies could help if you have access, but do your best with what you have available.
  3. Do NOT go to the store if you are sick.  Ask (from a distance) a friend, neighbor, or on a neighborhood site for support.  Many cities have also setup support networks, so check your local webpages.

Exercise

You will not be getting regular exercise.  You need to let your body rest so it can push this virus out.  There are some studies that physical exertion can increase white boodcell count, but you will also be exercising while fatigued which isn’t good.  Below are a set of breathing and movement exercises I recommend (based on many years of swimming).  These are my own self-taught, but I’ve had good luck with them on previous lung-related illnesses and on a good day have the lung capacity to hold my breath for about 2 1/2 minutes.

Note that when sick, these are best to do AFTER being well-hydrated (see the section above about drinking lots of WATER) and have taken your expectorant.  Take your Mucinex, get to that 1hr pee cycle, and then you can do these with greater effect in breaking up material stuck in your lungs.
You do NOT need to be sick to do these.  In fact, doing these exercises beforehand can start building lung capacity that might help you later.

  1. You will want to (gently) stretch your lungs.  Slowly breathe in as far as you can.  If you gag or cough go ahead and finish that and start over again.  Once you think you’ve reached as far as possible, hold your breath for a few seconds and release.  Repeat this a few times.
  2. The second stretching phase will be to repeat part 1, but after a second, use your diaphragm like you are going to “breath out” but continue to fully hold your breath, not letting the air out of your lungs.  Do this lightly and slowly and hold for a few seconds.  Let go of the additional pressure and then exhale normally.  What you are doing is increasing the internal pressure on your lungs.  If there is gunk stuck in there it might help loosen it from the walls of your lungs.  You don’t want to increase damage to your already overworked lungs though, which is why you shouldn’t push too hard and for too long.
  3. The next part will feel the most strange, but helps when dealing with those difficult stuck chunks.  I personally have had some uncontrolled coughing result so be careful and prepared.  When you exhale you never fully collapse your lungs so they are near empty.  We want to do this much like wringing out a sponge.  This also helps “squeeze” out that material you want to get out of there.  
    Inhale and exhale normally.  Then when you reach that normal “exhaled” point, continue to push your diaphragm further, forcing more air out.  It might take multiple cycles to get to the bare minimum, but you might eventually hear some squishing, wheezing, gurgling, and other weird sounds as you reach that minimum.  You might also feel some crud break loose.  Then inhale back like normal and you can continue to the full inhale in step 1 , repeating these steps 1 (optionally 2) and 3 to give your lungs a “workout”.
  4. You can do the above steps laying down, sitting, standing, upside down, however you want, and it might even help to try it in multiple positions.  Gravity works wonders, so move around as you can and see what works best.
  5. The other primary exercise you will be doing during this is coughing.  It might be interesting to hear that people cough in all different ways, and some will be more effective than others.  The point of coughing in this case is to use the air pressure to expel material from the lungs.  Higher pressure is better (obviously to what your body can handle), so you want to give your lungs that best opportunity to create that pressure and volume.  When you feel a cough coming on, first try to breath in as far as possible.  Maybe even hold it in for a second before then coughing as hard as you can or think you reasonably can do.  Ideally this has then broken lose the source of the cough, but if not you might want to force another cough or two, or try breathing exercises above a few times before the next real cough.
    It can also help to sometimes create some “back-pressure” by placing a pillow, bunched up blanket or towel in front of your mouth right before the cough.  That will increase the air pressure slightly (while still allowing for the high air volume release).
    Again, position can matter.  Try sitting up, try leaning forward, try laying on your side, then the other side.  I’ve even heard that it might help to lay chest-down.  Move to these positions for awhile, then move to a comfortable position and cough.
  6. Most importantly, do NOT push yourself too far.  If your body feels tired, then stop and rest.  Do not enter the fatigue stage, it’s hard to get out of and puts much more stress on your body.  Take a break from whatever you are doing and get to it later.  It can wait, you need to get well first!

Sleep

Sleep is important, but sleep is also your enemy here.  While sleeping you won’t be able to cough, so any congestion entering your lungs will not be forcefully removed.  You will need to devise a routine that allows you to get rest, but also avoids allowing your lungs to get completely clogged up by morning.  Starting a little more tired but with decently clean lungs will be a lot better than starting with completely clogged lungs and still feeling exhausted.
Be prepared for a regimen of waking up frequently, spending some time coughing, peeing, drinking some more water, and then repeating this cycle until morning.  If you’re sick with this you have nowhere to go, so “morning” might be later than usual.  Your only schedule that matters now is the one that gets rid of this illness!
Start out with a shorter cycle, close to 1hr.  Use your phone to set a timer.  Wake up, pee, drink water, and see how much you can cough up.  If it’s not a lot then you can increase the period.  If it’s more than you are comfortable with then do not increase, and possibly decrease the period.  The period might increase and decrease throughout the night, you will need to be flexible.  Use it during the day for naps too, don’t wake up too congested, it’s a step backward!

Results

If all goes well, you will spend less time congested and will hopefully result in a shorter infection and recovery cycle.  There are NO guarantees, as this seems to effect people in a very broad spectrum.  As I have more ideas I’ll revise this.  Comments are enabled but all must be approved before they will be visible.  I’ll stop by as I have time to see what you all have to say as well as any other potentially useful suggestions.
Until then I wish you good luck and I hope there are some useful tips here for you.

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