Home remedies for respiratory illness

Even as the omicron variant loosens its grip in Washington state, transmission of COVID-19 remains much higher than last winter. Moreover, several other respiratory viruses usually reach peak transmission in February.

A handful of common drugstore items could alleviate symptoms of mild COVID-19 or another respiratory illness, according to Dr. Nikki Gentile, a physician at UW Medicine Primary Care at Northgate.

“Depending on the symptoms that patients are experiencing, there’s often an over-the-counter option that can be helpful,” said Gentile. She suggests keeping anti-inflammatory medications (e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen), liquids for hydration and, if possible, a pulse oximeter, a battery-powered device that clips over your fingertip to quickly detect blood-oxygen saturation, an important measure of health.

Gentile, who also cares for patients at the Post-COVID-19 Rehabilitation and Recovery Clinic, said long-term symptoms can stem from even a minor case of COVID-19.

“It is possible that you can develop [COVID-19] symptoms a few weeks out that you've never experienced before that impact your gastrointestinal system – so your stomach and your bowel, your brain – brain fog, focus, fatigue, just really feeling exhausted,” Gentile said. “These very vague, difficult, often difficult to describe symptoms that are just coming out of nowhere.”

In downloadable video assets, Gentile offers guidance about at-home care and when an illness might require professional medical attention.

UW Medicine