COVID-19: Behram’s Pharmacy advises on prevention measures & management of symptoms with over-the-counter medicines | 25 March 2020
As part of its efforts to continuously educate the local population about coronavirus (COVID-19), Seychelles NATION obtained the advice of Zarine Udwadia-Durup, pharmacist at Behram’s Plaisance Pharmacy, about prevention measures and managing symptoms of COVID-19 at home with over-the-counter medicines.
Seychelles NATION: What are some over-the-counter medicines that are being recommended for managing the symptoms of COVID- 19? Are there any that help in preventing infection?
Zarine Udwadia-Durup: There aren’t any specific over-the-counter medicines that can be used to prevent a person being infected with COVID-19. However, most people prefer to buy health supplements, such as vitamins and minerals (especially vitamin C, zinc and selenium), cod liver oil and elderberry to boost up their immune systems to combat infections of any sort.
As for managing the symptoms of COVID-19, as there is currently no cure, but, over-the-counter treatments for mild symptoms of the infection could include paracetamol for body pain and fever, and some cough syrups.
Saying this however, if a person is infected or thinks that they may be infected with COVID-19, they should definitely call the health authorities who can advise on proper treatment.
Seychelles NATION: Are there any medicines that are not recommended in general or for certain people? For example, there is concern about using anti-inflammatory medicines like Ibuprofen.
Zarine Udwadia-Durup: When in doubt, paracetamol is probably the safest drug that can be used for the majority of the population for fever and body pain.
There has been much speculation about the use of the anti-inflammatory drug, Ibuprofen, in patients with COVID-19.
Based on currently available information, the World Health Organisation (WHO) does not recommend against the use of Ibuprofen in the treatment of fever and body pain in patients with COVID-19. The WHO has been in contact with physicians treating COVID-19 patients with Ibuprofen and to date, is not aware of any negative effects beyond the usual ones that limit its use in certain patient groups.
Seychelles NATION: What can you recommend for people who are prone to having very bad fevers / get complications with high fever, to bring the fever down, as well as those who are prone to upper respiratory problems?
Zarine Udwadia-Durup: Again, paracetamol is probably the best medicine to bring down fever. Ibuprofen and Aspirin (in patients only above 16 years) can also be used, provided the patient doesn’t have any contraindications.
Alternatively, non-pharmacological methods to bring down the fever include:
- having a lukewarm bath
- drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated
- wearing lightweight clothing
Any person with a fever lasting more than 3 days after self-treatment should seek medical attention.
For those prone to upper respiratory problems, practicing good hygiene is key. If the person is a smoker, it is best to quit smoking. Supplements such as vitamin C, zinc and selenium can also be beneficial to boost up their immune systems, to not necessarily prevent, but to help reduce the severity and possibly, the length of any infection.
Seychelles NATION: COVID-19 is said to potentially cause complications in those with underlying health conditions and the elderly; is there anything you can recommend for these people that can help them?
Zarine Udwadia-Durup: According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) older patients and those of any age with underlying health conditions such as asthma, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, HIV and women who are pregnant, are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19.
It is imperative that patients in this risk group practice good hand hygiene; avoid going out of the home unless they really have to; keep a space of at least 1.5 metres between themselves and someone who is sick; clean and disinfect surfaces properly; ensure food is properly cooked; drink plenty of fluids; avoid stress; ensure that they have enough stock of their essential medicines (but do not hoard) and that they are taking them properly.
Seychelles NATION: Aside from over-the-counter medications, can you recommend anything else for preventing risk of infection and for managing symptoms?
Zarine Udwadia-Durup: To prevent transmission and acquiring infection of COVID-19, it is imperative that people start adapting the following lifestyle changes:
• wash your hands frequently with soap and water for a minimum of twenty seconds. This is about the length of time that it takes you to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice. Make sure that you follow the WHO guidelines on proper handwashing (as in below image). Where soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used.
• keep a minimum distance of 1.5 metrems between you and other people who may be coughing or sneezing
• avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
• avoid smoking
• practice social and physical distancing (as in below image)
• avoid handshaking
• use the crook of your elbow if you need to cough or sneeze
• use a tissue if you have to blow your nose and dispose of it in a bin
Seychelles NATION: Is there anything you'd like to say about personal protective gear like face masks, gloves and hand sanitizers?
Zarine Udwadia-Durup: There is currently a shortage of hand sanitizers in Seychelles. If possible, try and wash your hands with soap and water as often as possible.
The use of surgical masks is a bit of a controversial topic at the moment. If you are healthy, then there is no reason to wear a mask. You can wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing or are taking care of a person who is infected with COVID-19. When putting on and removing masks though, it is important that people follow the proper steps on how to do so.
However, even though there is no evidence that wearing masks prevent you from getting infected, some people do find peace of mind by wearing them. They say that by wearing a mask, they are protecting themselves which in turn helps to reduce stress and anxiety. This is an anxious time for many people so I can understand where they are coming from.
Gloves are also currently being used by numerous people. Once again, gloves are only effective if they are used correctly.
Seychelles NATION: What other information or advice would you like to share with the Seychelles population?
Zarine Udwadia-Durup: Once again, wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands for 20 seconds or more with soap and water as often as possible. Use hand sanitizer if you don’t have access to these.
If you can work from home, please do so. Avoid going out unnecessarily. Keep a space of at least 1.5 metres between you and other people.
If you are asked to be in self-quarantine, please respect this. Limit your physical and social contact to prevent the spread of the virus. Stay connected to your friends and family by social media, email and telephone.
I cannot stress enough the importance of social and physical distancing, and hand hygiene. These are the main things that we can do to slow down and eventually stop the spread of COVID-19. Everyone has a part to play in this.
As the department of health’s Public Health Commissioner, Dr Jude Gedeon, said in the press conference on Saturday March 21: “Either you are part of the problem, or you join us to be part of the solution.”
Help us, so that we can help you.
For more information, contact Behram’s Plaisance Pharmacy:
- Telephone: 4 345 783
- Email: email@example.com