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What to Do if You Test Positive for COVID-19

From the Desk of Dr. Antonucci

Oct. 20, 2021

Lee Health Shares a Guide to Recovery at Home
Thankfully, COVID-19 hospitalizations at Lee Health continue to decrease; however, the virus is still spreading in our community. Every day, we see patients whose COVID-19 symptoms are severe enough to require hospitalization. While our teams throughout Lee Health remain ready to care for COVID-positive patients, we also hope that those who test positive for the virus understand that there are steps they can take and things they can do to help lessen the severity of the infection and prevent hospitalization. A team of Lee Health physicians and nurses created the “COVID-19 – A Guide to Recovery at Home,” which is available for our health care team to provide to patients who test positive but do not need hospital-level care.

In addition to staying hydrated and eating healthy food, there are a few specific things to do to aid in recovery at home and decrease the likelihood of hospitalization, including:

  • Avoiding extended time lying flat on your back;
  • Exercising your lungs; and
  • Receiving monoclonal antibody treatment.

If you are positive for and experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you definitely don’t feel well, and you probably just want to lay down. Rest is important, but lying flat on your back can actually be bad for you. Proning, or laying on your stomach, is better because it is a way to redistribute the blood supply back through your lungs to get more oxygen. Sitting up is even better than lying flat on your back. We recommend trying to change your position every 30 minutes to two hours while you’re awake following this sequence:

  • Lay on your belly.
  • Turn and lay on your right side.
  • Sit up in a chair or bed at a 30- to 60-degree angle.
  • Turn and lay on your left side.
  • Go back to laying on your belly.

Again, stay in each position for 30 minutes to two hours, but if any of the positions are painful or leave you short of breath, switch to the next one.

Exercising the lungs using an incentive spirometer often helps with other lung diseases, so it may aid in your recovery from COVID-19, too. A medical device that measures how deeply you can inhale, an incentive spirometer helps you take slow, deep breaths to expand and fill your lungs with air, which can help prevent pneumonia. Of course, not everyone will have an incentive spirometer, so you can also use a straw, inhaling slowly and deeply, holding your breath for 3 seconds and then exhaling normally.

Monoclonal antibodies (MAB) are an effective treatment for COVID-19 if administered in the early days of infection. MAB is produced in a laboratory and administered intravenously or subcutaneously (under the skin). It helps our immune systems mimic natural COVID-19 antibodies. The treatment is specifically designed for people age 12 and older who test positive for COVID-19 and have had mild to moderate symptoms for less than 10 days. MAB treatment helps prevent hospitalizations and can lessen the severity of the virus; however, we are finding that people are waiting too long to get treated with it. It is too late to receive MAB treatment if you are already hospitalized. Lee Health is administering MAB; you will need a physician referral, and you must meet certain risk factors required by the FDA. The Department of Health also has a location in Bonita Springs where you can receive the MAB treatment without a referral.

The “COVID-19 – A Guide to Recovery at Home” includes photos of the sequence of positions and of the incentive spirometer, as well as more detailed instructions for using the incentive spirometer and returning to work or school following COVID-19. To see the entire Guide, go to our website www.LeeHealth.org/our-services/public-health-awareness and scroll toward the bottom of the page and look for “Helpful Resources” and click on “COVID-19 – A Guide to Recovery at Home.”