The recent months have been testing times for everybody in India. Families are getting affected and the COVID-19 infection is spreading faster than before. Although you may not be completely prepared to deal with the situation, proper care of a COVID-19 positive patient in your family is essential while keeping the rest of the family safe.
This article discusses some critical points that you can follow if the virus enters your home and affects a family member.
The Primary Steps if the RT-PCR Report is Positive
It is worrisome if a family member tests positive in the RT-PCR test for COVID-19. Here are a few steps that you should follow when you know you have a COVID-19 positive patient at home.
Consult your family doctor or find a doctor nearby for emergency consultation. If he/she has recommended home isolation for the infected member, you may take care in the following manner:
- Watch for the symptoms: The common COVID-19 symptoms, such as cough, fever, muscle ache, loss of smell and taste, headache, nasal congestion or a runny nose and diarrhoea or vomiting, maybe mild. However, anyone who has tested positive may develop moderate to severe symptoms. Hence, it is necessary to be vigilant.
- Check the level of infection: To ascertain the disease’s severity and decide the treatment, your doctor may recommend a few blood tests that include the levels of C-reactive protein, which is an inflammatory biomarker. Another test to determine the severity of the infection is a CT scan of the lungs. This test gives the score of the lesions in the lungs.
Taking Care of a COVID-19 Patient at Home
After the laboratory tests and the scan for the COVID-19 positive patient are completed, you must follow all the instructions given by your doctor. If your doctor advises home isolation, you need to prepare for several things to take proper care of the patient. At the same time, protect the rest of the family and yourself from getting infected. The following tips will help you get through:
- Home isolation: Home isolation is a method that ensures you keep the infected person away from the rest of the family. Here are a few instructions to follow during home isolation:
- Locate a separate room with an attached bathroom for home isolation of the patient.
- Keep the room well ventilated with windows open and cross ventilation to allow fresh air to get in.
- Both you and the patient should wear a triple-layered mask or N-95 mask. Dispose of the disposable masks every eight hours.
- Encourage the patient to closely monitor his/her oxygen levels by a pulse oximeter and fever using a thermometer. It is advised to note the oxygen levels and body temperature and regularly report to your doctor.
- Give the patient proper home-cooked food and plenty of water to drink. Maintaining hydration is very important.
- Give the patient his/her necessary medicines so that they can regularly take them on their own.
- Proper precautions for family’s safety:
- Avoid contact with the patient.
- While you take care of the patient, disinfect and wash the area and maintain physical distance from the patient.
- Do not share any personal items.
- Take care of your health and monitor your symptoms.
- Do not go to your workplace if you are taking care of the patient.
Daily diet and hygiene
It is necessary to provide healthy food to the patient.
- Daily diet: To ensure that the COVID-19 patient receives proper nutrition, do the following:
- Eat home-cooked food preferably. If you are ordering ready home-cooked meals, request contactless delivery.
- Heat the food delivered before consumption to avoid contamination.
- Follow a diet rich in proteins, minerals and vitamins that boosts immunity and provides nutrition.
- Avoid excess salt and sugar in the food.
- Make the patient drink plenty of water. Add lemon juice or fresh unsweetened juice to maintain hydration.
- Avoid butter, ghee or dairy fats. Use unsaturated cooking oils.
- Hygiene: While cooking food, maintain hygiene. Follow these safe practices:
- Keep your kitchen and cooking utensils clean.
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Separately store the cooked and uncooked food.
- Cook the food properly.
- Store the food at either 60°C or 5°C to prevent it from spoiling.
- Use clean raw items for cooking food.
Admitting the Patient to a Hospital
While you regularly monitor the patient’s oxygen levels and temperature, you should watch for a few more warning signs. Your family member might need oxygen or a ventilator bed. Keep the doctor’s contact number handy. Immediately call a doctor and seek admission to the hospital if you notice the following signs:
- Pain or pressure in the chest.
- Inability to stay awake.
- Confused state.
- Bluish colouration of lips, face and nails.
Preventive Steps to Control the Spread
While taking care of the infected family member, the following preventive steps are necessary to control the spread of the virus to the rest of the family:
- Stay separately, eat in separate areas and wash the dishes with gloves and hot water.
- Do not share personal items.
- Both you and the sick person should wear masks. Dispose of them on time.
- Disinfect the surfaces, such as doorknobs, handles, switches or tables, which the sick person might have touched earlier.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitiser.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Disinfect the rooms in your house.
- Do not allow visitors.
- Keep a watch on your and the rest of the family’s health.
Talk to your doctor about when to end home isolation and the necessary tests to be carried out. Take proper precautions to avoid the spread of the infection. Stay vigilant and immediately contact the doctor in case of emergency. Help your loved ones recover from COVID-19 while in home isolation.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.