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What to do if you have COVID

Updated: May 19, 2022

This feels like a good time to write this blog for 2 reasons, firstly COVID restrictions have been eased and the rates of infection are rising, and secondly, I just had COVID!


Positive COVID test
Positive COVID test

The current versions of the virus cause relatively mild symptoms in most people, but it’s still not much fun, and some people are hit much harder than others. However, there is a lot you can do to reduce your symptoms and reduce your risk of developing ‘long COVID’.


Support your immune system

Your immune system is your natural defence against all infections. A number of nutrients are essential for an effective immune system, making sure you include all of these in your diet, or through supplementation, can make a big difference.


Vitamin D

We’ve all heard about how important Vitamin D is for immunity, and research has shown a correlation between low vitamin D status and long COVID. We make Vitamin D from sunshine, but in the UK the sun is only high enough for Vitamin D production for around 6 months of the year, and using sunscreen stops Vitamin D from being made – consequently many people have below-optimum levels. If you come down with COVID immediately start taking at least 4,000iu of Vitamin D per day until the infection has gone, then drop to 1,000iu a day.


Vitamin C and zinc

Both of these essential nutrients have antiviral, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. As well as eating plenty of Vitamin C-containing fresh fruit and vegetables I recommend that you supplement with at least 2g Vitamin C per day.


Zinc is needed for cell reproduction, and when your immune system is actively fighting an infection a lot of new cells are being produced, so your need for zinc increases. Zinc is in seafood, meat, fish, pulses, seeds, especially pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds. Many people have low zinc levels, if you have white spots on your fingernails this can be a sign of low zinc. It is wise to take a supplement while you have COVID – at least 25mg zinc per day.


You can get zinc and Vitamin C lozenges, which is a good way to ensure you are getting enough of both throughout the day.


Quercetin

Quercetin supports your immune system, helps control production of histamine and is antioxidant. It is a plant flavonoid found in onions, apples, green tea, parsley and berries. An apple a day really is a good thing! I recommend increasing quercetin-containing foods, or taking a quercetin supplement while you have COVID.


N-acetylcysteine

N-acetylcysteine replenishes glutathione in the body. Glutathione is a very powerful antioxidant and often becomes depleted during illness. N-acetylcysteine also helps loosen thick mucous and supports mucous-membrane health.


Symptom control

COVID comes with many symptoms, lessening these makes us feel more comfortable.


For many people the symptoms are cold-like – sore throat, cough, blocked nose and sinuses, excess mucous. As well as over-the-counter cough medicines and lozenges try Echinacea lozenges to help soothe a sore throat and boost your immune system at the same time. Vitamin C and Zinc lozenges act in a similar way .


Ginger and honey tea can help with coughing, as can liquorice tea. Ginger also helps with nausea. Simply grate fresh ginger into hot water and add a slice of lemon and a small amount of honey. Inhaling steam can help loosen mucous in the lungs.




Take it easy

There is a war going on inside your body, you can help by providing all the necessary nutrition, but you also need to rest to allow your body to concentrate its efforts on fighting the infection. Rest as much as you can, and don’t rush back to work and socialising too soon – allow yourself 2 weeks to fully recover.


Supplements


Vitamin D – 4,000iu a day for 2 weeks, then 1,000iu per day

Vitamin C – 2g per day, spread throughout the day.

Zinc – 25mg a day for 2 weeks

Quercetin – 1 tablet twice daily

N-acetylcysteine – 1-2 tablets per day for 2 weeks.

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