Getting COVID-19 with an Autoimmune Disease: My Experience

Hey all! It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post. And the reason for that is…after 2.5 years of this pandemic and being fully vaccinated, I finally got COVID-19.

Getting COVID was one of my worst fears during this pandemic. As someone with an autoimmune condition, I wasn’t sure how my body would react to getting the virus. I had read stories, such as this young woman with an autoimmune condition, who had caught COVID and ended up having to get a lung transplant. It’s really scary since some people report that their symptoms are more of a bad flu, while others end up with crippling long COVID symptoms or worse, end up passing away.

It’s been a few weeks since I first tested positive, and I’m on the mend. My main symptoms were a fever, chills, sore throat, dry cough, loss of taste and smell, fatigue, joint pain, muscle soreness and weakness. As you can imagine, it wasn’t a fun recovery!

My only symptom now, a few weeks post-COVID diagnosis, is a lingering dry cough. I have asthma, and although it’s a very mild form of asthma, it definitely flared up when I got COVID.

I wanted to share some of the things that helped me recover from COVID-19 quickly when you have a compromised immune system. Of course, always talk with your doctor before beginning any kind of treatment plan or modifying your health regiment.

1. Anti-viral medication

The first thing that helped me recover from COVID more quickly was getting on anti-viral medication. The medication, called paxlovid, was developed by Pfizer and is composed of two separate medications: nirmatrelvir and ritonavir. The medication is taken orally as six pills swallowed daily – three in the morning, and three at night.

Paxlovid isn’t available to just anyone, however. You have to be at high risk for severe disease if you get COVID-19. As someone with an autoimmune condition and asthma, I definitely fit that category. I was able to get a last-minute telehealth appointment with a family doctor, and he prescribed me paxlovid, as well as some prescription cough medication.

A clinical trial showed that taking paxlovid resulted in an 89% reduction in the risk of hospitalization and death. So, if you get COVID and you’re immunocompromised in some way, I would definitely talk to your doctor to see if you can get a prescription for paxlovid or another anti-viral medication to help you recover faster.

2. Heating/Cooling Pad

Another item that really helped me recover from COVID was a lavender heating and cooling pad. I’ve talked about using a lavender heating pad in the past on this blog for general muscle aches and joint pains, but it was definitely helpful in recovering from the virus as well.

For example, when I was running a low-grade fever, I was able to put the pad in the freezer to turn it into a cooling pad, helping me cool down when I was running hot at night. When I had bad muscle aches and joint pains, I would heat up the pad in the microwave and within a minute, I was able to get some relief.

There are many inexpensive heating pads that you can find online – for example, I found this lavender heating pad from Amazon for only $12.99. You can obviously get an unscented version if you prefer, but I do enjoy the floral aroma.

3. Humidifier

As someone with Sjogren’s syndrome, having a humidifier is always a good bet, since it makes the air feel less dry and helps moisturize your immediate environment. That being said, it also helped me to feel more comfortable when sick with the virus, since COVID gave me a bad dry cough as well, not to mention I had a flare up in many of my Sjogren’s syndrome symptoms, like eye, mouth, and skin dryness.

The humidifier I use is from the brand Crane, but you can find various humidifiers online in different styles and sizes that will fit your space best.

4. Throat Spray

If you’re like me and you experience a bad sore throat and cough when you’re sick with COVID, then I’d recommend looking into an over-the-counter throat spray to help relieve some of the soreness and discomfort. You can get throat sprays with a numbing agent, like phenol or lidocaine, at most major pharmacies. I ended up picking up this cherry-flavored throat spray from CVS, and it definitely helped me get through some of my worse days.

If you’re looking for more of a natural throat spray, you can try an echinacea throat spray such as this one on Amazon for less than $12. Echinacea is a natural compound derived from perennial flowers, and has been used among Native American populations for its healing properties. That being said, echinacea is believed to work by boosting one’s immune system (like Vitamin C), so if you have an autoimmune condition, just be sure to get the go-ahead from your healthcare provider before taking any herb or medication that could increase immune activity.

Those are the items that helped me the most to recover more quickly from COVID-19. Are you someone with an autoimmune disease or other chronic illness who caught the virus? If so, what helped you to recover? Let us know in the comments below!

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