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What to Do If You Get COVID – from an ER Doctor & Former Special Forces Medic

Disclaimer: This is not as a substitute for going to the hospital, especially if you’re in the highest risk category. These are firsthand tips on how to improve your situation at home if you get COVID-19.

Greetings GORUCK family,

My name is Dr. Richard Angel, an ER Doctor & Former Special Forces Medic. I’m 50 years old and I want to help as many people as possible get through having Coronavirus and keep them well enough to stay out of the hospital. I have Coronavirus and am recovering after 2 weeks of symptoms. Here is what I have done to stay relatively well and recommend these measures to you.

Dr. Angel’s Coronavirus Care:

1. Hydration: drink plenty of fluids, water, tea, warm beverages. Especially important for the elderly who are often dehydrated. This flushes the kidneys of toxins, keeps plenty of fluid in the body to keep secretions as liquid as possible – not allowing thick mucous to fill the lungs. An occasional toddy or hot herb tea with honey and lemon is great. (If unable to take much, sip small amounts of regular Gatorade or sports drinks and water. This will give you potassium, sodium and glucose, vital nutrients.)

2. Immune support: I like Zicam zinc throat lozenges 4 x a day, especially at night before going to bed to keep viral loads low. Also maybe Emergen-C, other supplements like Vitamin D 5000 U per day, perhaps some immune supporting mushrooms. Gargle and drink diluted apple cider vinegar may help, you may warm and add honey if needed.

3. Diet: Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and quality proteins. Oranges daily are great! Lemons and honey for your tea. This is not a time for a minimal diet: you want to be well fed with nutritious foods to prepare your body for potential loss of appetite. If you get sick enough to require hospital respiratory support, your body needs to be fueled up to “run a marathon”.

4. Medications: Zicam lozenges for prevention and treatment of symptoms. Plenty of cough drops. Vicks Vaporub is excellent and a must have item to decrease cough, open and soothe bronchial passages. Delsym 12 hr dextromethorphan extended release (the flat bottle) is a great baseline cough suppressant. You may add day and night cold and cough medicines, Tylenol (acetaminophen) as needed. NyQuil is good to help sleep with Vaporub and warm tea. Afrin or neti pot may help clear your nose as will over the counter sinus medications. There is an excellent old cough syrup that you can generally take with other medications, it is like liquid menthol, called “Buckley’s Original Mixture”. I highly recommend having some available—can be found on Amazon.

5. Equipment: Vaporizer machine and Vaposteam. Get the old school one that heats up not cool mist. This is a lifesaver. I would also recommend a simple nebulizer machine ($50) and saline ampules (the pink ones). These are available on Amazon. You may need an albuterol ampule prescription as well. In addition to a thermometer, a fingertip pulse oximeter can be very useful. A general “cutoff” for being sick is about 94%—below this you may need to see a doctor. Shortness of breath and work of breathing are signs you are getting sicker and need to see a physician. (Or call in!)

  • [[Note: this is only intended for at home use while in quarantine. The use of these products might contribute to greater risk of infection for those around you. More info here.]]

6. Exercise: sunshine, light walking if you are ill is always great. If not symptomatic, keep workouts relatively light. Now is not a great time to suppress your immune system using energy recovering from a hardcore workout. However keeping fitness—especially cardiovascular at optimum levels which may pay big dividends if you get really sick.

7. Hot baths: hot tub soaks for 15 minutes twice a day may help with an “artificially induced fever” that makes you a less hospitable host for the virus among other benefits.

8. Hygiene: Shower/bath daily with clean clothes daily, brush teeth, etc. This cannot be underestimated—decreases the virus and the morale boost is very important.

9.[Update] Tylenol, NOT Ibuprofen: For pain and fever, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is preferred. For now it is probably best to avoid NSAID’s (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), aspirin. Studies and information are inconclusive about the safety of NSAID’s at this point but that may change in the near future. GORUCK will keep you posted.

In summary, the goal is to keep your body and immune system functioning at optimal levels, stay hydrated and make yourself unattractive to the virus!

So make some homemade chicken soup, do all the right things to avoid spread and we will get through this difficult time.

Wishing all of you good health and a speedy recovery. Thanks to Jason and the GORUCK Team for their support!

Rich Angel


About the Author

Lt Col (Ret) Richard Angel is a former Special Forces Medic (18D), 7th SFG(A) Surgeon and currently practices Emergency Medicine in Texas.

27 comments

  1. Reid Matthews says:

    Thank you, GORUCK and Dr. Angel. This is practical, calm, and encouraging. I appreciate the information **and** the style. I hope you fully recover quickly.

    • Cynthia says:

      As no one should believe an internet stranger, Google Resveratrol immunity and read the research. I learned about it from David Sinclair, PhD, molecular scientist and director of a research lab at Harvard Medical. I take one gram powder daily mixed in three tablespoons of Greek yogurt. Need the fat from the yogurt to increase solubility. One gram is far more than you can get from red wine or grapes etc. I cannot even recall when I had a cold or flu but that’s just my anecdotal info. Make your own decisions. Read…

  2. em says:

    hey there! i’m a ER RN in denver and tested positive one week ago today. i’ve been doing most of what you mentioned above and seem to be doing great. thanks for the advice – for all to see! stay well y’all

    • Tamara J Johll says:

      I also did an at home steam sauna to get rid of the dry cough symptoms. I tired to get a good sweat in too! Thanks for the blog!

  3. Nate says:

    Awesome info! Remember that pulse oximetry “normal” can change based on elevation. We are at a mile high and 94% is normal here. In our city, we don’t place on oxygen until it gets down to 90%. Check with your doctor to see what a good range should be for you.

  4. Dev says:

    Listen to the man! As someone who served with “Doc” Angel I can attest to his fortitude & judgement! If he says to do it, take it as Gospel!! Prouder still to call him my brother!

  5. Jay says:

    Nice summary but a couple of caveats if you are sick: 1. Don’t use the nebulizer if you live with anyone else, it aerosolizes the viral particles making them easier to spread. 2 Don’t over hydrate, we’re finding people with COVID pneumonia do worse with extra fluids.

  6. Jennifer says:

    Very sadly they have closed all beaches and parks. These are places where we use to do our walks and be outside in the fresh air and sunshine.
    The overcrowded markets are still open.
    I guess reaching over each other for food and toilet paper is acceptable.

  7. Mark Johll says:

    Thanks for this!
    1)I tried to stay away from or limit milk so that I didn’t have excess mucus. 2) I used a neil med (sinus rinse) and 3) also gargled with hot salt water.

    Having a humidifier is the best! It really helped to keep the Lyphm nodes from being to swollen especially when you go to bed. Nice way to help you wake up feeling like your best.

    God Bless America!

  8. Steven Hart says:

    This is why I have been and always will be a supporter of Goruck. In a world where people are desperate for information you are supplying actionable items and not panic.

    Airborne, All the Way, Lets Go!

  9. Elicia Peters-Charles says:

    I am from Trinidad and Tobago. This is such valuable information. It decreases the level of panic we are experiencing all over the world. My daughter, Dr. Shanice Peters is at Jersey City Hospital, and I pray to God she stays safe along with all other Medical staff fighting to save lives all over the world. God Bless.

  10. Catelyn chase says:

    Is it possible to have mucus build up when lying down to sleep and start coughing and coughing then while up feel fine besides a headache..lack of energy….but only for 2 days ???
    During waking hours I take percocet for my back , which I’m sure suppresses my cough…
    Could I have the virus???

  11. Robin Hartman says:

    Good medicine, lots of prayer. Skip drinking alcohol if you are “one of us”. I got tested this morning. Will know in 3 days if I am in the Covid club..

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