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Keeping communities healthy:
Spotlight on COVID-19 symptoms

Medcan physician Dr. Scott Gledhill weighs in on how to adequately prepare for — and alleviate — COVID-19 symptoms.

Physician reviews patient intake form

If I’m experiencing symptoms, or just want to be prepared in the case that I or a loved one gets sick, which over-the-counter (OTC) medications are best to have on hand?

Dr. Gledhill recommends stocking up on the same medications you’d use for influenza.


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Tylenol (or acetaminophen)—ideally the Cold and Flu version—will help reduce symptoms like fever, headaches, muscle aches and congestion. Avoid an Ibuprofen-based version, as there’s concern that it may exacerbate symptoms. (This hasn’t yet been proven, but you’re best to play it safe.)

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Gravol is your best bet for nausea, as it’s the simplest solution and still readily available. In case you’re too nauseated to keep the oral form down, you may want to pick up a suppository version as well.

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They may be hard to find, but zinc lozenges have been shown to reduce the duration of viral infection by a very small amount. If you’re able to get your hands on some, they certainly can’t hurt.


Tamiflu, which has been used to help reduce the impact of influenza infections in the past, has been shown to be ineffective against the COVID-19 virus.

Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) is getting some attention on the Internet for possibly helping with the COVID-19 infection. Purely speculative, there is no good evidence to support this claim, and public health currently does not endorse its use. (That could change as evidence emerges.) There are also significant side effects of Plaquenil, some of which that may exacerbate COVID-19 symptoms.

What else can I do to alleviate symptoms?

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Rehydrate with broth and low-sugar sports drinks

Warm tea cup

Consume hot drinks like tea and lemon water

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Use a humidifier

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Use a Netty Pot or nasal rinse device to help clear nasal secretions

TIP: To make an equally effective rehydration remedy at home, combine 6 teaspoons of sugar, ½ teaspoon of salt, and 1 liter of water.

Expert tips

  • If you develop symptoms (fever, cough, headaches, muscle aches, sore throat), stay at home and book a Virtual Year-Round Care appointment. (If you’re not a Year-Round Care member, please give us a call at 416.350.5900.) Visit the hospital ONLY if you’re becoming dehydrated and can’t keep fluids down, or if you’re experiencing significant shortness of breath.
  • Isolate yourself at home. (Expect the following 2-4 weeks to be very unpleasant.)
  • Avoid spreading the virus to those you live with (though it may be too late to prevent this by the time you experience symptoms).
  • Many of us will be self-isolating for several weeks to months without ever developing any symptoms. Now’s the perfect time to start implementing lifestyle adjustments that your busy schedule didn’t previously allow, like personal training (now available virtually at Medcan)—outdoors or in the comfort of your home. There are also many great apps and YouTube videos to help train yourself in meditation and yoga.
  • Continue connecting with friends and family on virtual platforms like Whatsapp, Facetime and Duo.
  • Get a hold on stress and anxiety with Medcan’s virtual Mental Wellbeing solutions.

It is unlikely that heading to an assessment center will be particularly helpful, and it may expose you or others to COVID-19 if you don’t already have it. Since many individuals are being turned away without testing, try calling an assessment center hotline—or using our Symptom Screener—first to see if you should proceed.

COVID-19 Screener

In the last 14 days, have you:
Had the following symptoms?
One of:
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • New/worsening cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
Two of:
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Decrease in loss of taste or smell
  • Headache
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pink eye
  • Runny nose/nasal congestion with unknown cause
Travelled outside of Canada?
Tested positive for COVID-19 or had close prolonged contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 without wearing appropriate PPE?
If you are 70 years and older: Are also experiencing any of the following symptoms? Delirium, unexplained or increased number of falls, functional decline, worsening of chronic conditions
All fields are required.
Please answer all questions.
Based on your responses, we recommend that you stay home and isolate yourself for 14 days
If you have symptoms or your symptoms get worse, please book a Virtual Year-Round Care appointment. If you’re not a Year-Round Care member, call 416.350.5900.
Based on your responses, you are unlikely to have contracted COVID-19 (coronavirus) - but you may be a carrier
If you begin to have symptoms, please book a Virtual Year-Round Care appointment. If you’re not a Year-Round Care member, call 416.350.5900.

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