Treatments Your Healthcare Provider Might Recommend if You Are Sick
Treatments used for COVID-19 should be prescribed by your healthcare provider. People have been seriously harmed and even died after taking products not approved for COVID-19, even products approved or prescribed for other uses.
Drugs Approved or Authorized for Use
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one drug, remdesivir (Veklury), to treat COVID-19.
- The FDA can also issue emergency use authorizationsexternal icon (EUAs) to allow healthcare providers to use products that are not yet approved, or that are approved for other uses, to treat patients with COVID-19 if certain legal requirements are met.
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has developed and regularly updates Treatment Guidelinesexternal icon to help guide healthcare providers caring for patients with COVID-19, including when clinicians might consider using one of the products under an EUA.
Treatment Outside of the Hospital
If you receive a positive test result for COVID-19 and are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19, your healthcare provider may recommend that you receive treatment.
- For people at high risk of disease progression. The FDA has issued EUAs for two investigational monoclonal antibodies that can attach to parts of the virus. These antibodies could help the immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the virus.
- Bamlanivimabexternal icon and casirivimab plus imdevimabexternal icon are available under FDA EUAs for patients at high risk of disease progression and severe illness. Preliminary data suggest that some outpatients may benefit from receiving anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies early in the course of infection. The NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelinesexternal icon find that, to date, there are insufficient data from clinical trials to recommend for or against these treatments and these treatments should not be considered standard of care.
Your healthcare provider also may recommend the following to relieve symptoms and support your body’s natural defenses.
- Taking medications, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to reduce fever.
- Drinking water or receiving intravenous fluids to stay hydrated.
- Getting plenty of rest to help the body fight the virus.
Treatment in the Hospital
Your healthcare provider will decide on what approach to take for your treatment. There are drugs that have shown some benefit in reducing the severity of illness or risk of death for patients in the hospital by:
- Slowing the virus. Antiviral medications reduce the ability of the virus to multiply and spread through the body.
- Reducing an overactive immune response. In patients with severe COVID-19, the body’s immune system may overreact to the threat of the virus, worsening the disease. This can cause damage to the body’s organs and tissues. Some treatments can help reduce this overactive immune response.
- Dexamethasoneexternal icon is a steroid medication, similar to a natural hormone produced by the body. The NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelinesexternal icon recommend dexamethasone, or a similar medication, to prevent or reduce injury to the body for some hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19. Dexamethasone is recommended for patients who need supplemental oxygen.
- Treating complications. COVID-19 can damage the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, and gastrointestinal organs. It also can cause other complications. Depending on the complications, additional treatments might be used for severely ill hospitalized patients, such as blood thinners to prevent or treat blood clots.
- Supporting the body’s immune function. Plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19—called convalescent plasma—can contain antibodies to the virus. This could help the immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the virus, but currently the NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelinesexternal icon find there is not enough evidence to recommend these treatments.
Slow the spread of COVID-19
The best way to protect yourself is to avoid getting or spreading COVID-19.
- Stay 6 feet from others who don’t live in your household
- Wear a mask over your nose and mouth.
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated places.
- Wash your hands often.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
- Monitor your health daily.
Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever this flu season to protect yourself, your family and your community from flu. A flu vaccine can also help reduce the burden on our healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and save medical resources for care of COVID-19 patients.
If you think you may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider.
- Stay home and away from the people you live with to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your home.
- Consider getting tested.
- Monitor your symptoms.
- If someone is showing emergency warning signs, get medical care immediately. Emergency warning signs include:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face.