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(StatePoint) While stopping the spread of COVID-19 is the goal, the reality is that every day, more people contract the disease. For this reason, it’s important to be aware of available treatment options.
The Treating COVID-19 Campaign, which was developed independently by the American Lung Association, with grant support from Regeneron and GSK, is sharing some important insights into outpatient treatment options:
• Know your risk. It’s important to know if you’re at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19, as this can determine what treatments are available to you. There are many factors that may put you in the “high risk” category, including if you’re 65 and older, you smoke cigarettes, you have a chronic lung disease, are immunocompromised, or are living with certain medical conditions, including chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease. Individuals who are overweight or pregnant also fall in the high-risk category. You can see a full list at Lung.org/covid-19.
• Test, and then treat, at onset of symptoms. Experiencing symptoms that may be COVID-19? Get tested right away. If you test positive and are high risk, speak with your healthcare provider promptly about treatment options that may help prevent severe illness and reduce the risk of hospitalization. Currently available treatments include antivirals or monoclonal antibody treatments (mAbs). Your healthcare provider can help you determine the best course of treatment for you, which needs to start as soon as possible to help prevent possible progression of severe illness.
• Get informed. The Food and Drug Administration has authorized certain antiviral medications and monoclonal antibodies. Antivirals and monoclonal antibodies can help your immune system fight off the coronavirus infection, with a goal of preventing you from becoming seriously ill. Antivirals target certain parts of the virus to stop it from replicating, while monoclonal antibodies help the immune system better recognize and stop the infection. In both cases, medications need to be prescribed by a healthcare provider and started as soon as possible after diagnosis to be effective.
• Be your own advocate. Many patients have discovered firsthand that persistence can be necessary when it comes to getting treatment for COVID-19. When Jill Hein’s 83-year-old father tested positive, his primary care provider told him he wasn’t very sick and to go home and call if he got any sicker.
“When this information was relayed back to me, I objected and asked that Dad follow up with his pulmonologist immediately,” said Hein. “He didn’t want to, insisting that his primary care provider said he was doing OK. It wasn’t until I told Mom, ‘This can kill him,’ that I got through to them and she called his pulmonologist for a second opinion. Within four hours of having the infusion, Dad felt himself getting better. Over the next couple days, he continued to improve at home. Thankfully, he fully recovered.”
For more information about treatment options, as well as COVID-19 care tips, visit lung.org/treating-covid.
With people taking fewer precautions as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, the virus is spreading at a high rate. The good news is that there are treatments available for the most vulnerable among us to help avoid severe illness and hospitalization.