CareNow® - June 28, 2022

Can Urgent care treat COVID-19?

For the past two years, there have been very few treatment options available for the virus known as COVID-19. Different strains of the virus have resulted in different symptoms, and most patients who test positive are forced to ride out these symptoms as best they can from home in quarantine.

However, pharmaceutical companies have started to market medications to treat the virus, adding an option for patients in recovery from COVID-19. Patients who’ve tested positive no longer have to “wait it out” but can be seen by a medical provider and be prescribed medication to lessen the symptoms of the virus.

So what medication is currently available, and how do you know if you’re eligible to receive a prescription? We’re breaking down everything you need to know about the new treatment options available for COVID-19.

If you think you may have COVID-19, we offer a Web Check-In® feature so you don’t risk getting others sick while you sit in the waiting room. Instead, wait from the comfort of your own home, car, or office!

Is there medication for COVID-19?

Currently, COVID-19 vaccinations are the best way to prevent the virus and minimize symptoms should you get sick. However, the FDA has approved the emergency use of certain antiviral medications and monoclonal antibodies for those with severe cases.

Antiviral treatments help to stop the virus from multiplying in the body, preventing serious illness, and include Paxlovid, Remdesivir, and Molnupiravir. Bebtelovimab is the lone monoclonal antibody drug approved by the FDA.

It’s important that you begin any medication within days of your first symptoms for it to be truly effective.

Can you treat COVID-19?

Up until December 2021, there was only one medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, also known as the FDA, to treat COVID-19. 

However, Remdesivir was only prescribed for those who’d been hospitalized by the virus and needed to supplement their breathing with oxygen or are at risk of a serious illness. This medication is given intravenously using a needle in the skin.

The FDA has also approved the emergency use of two drugs, Molnupiravir and Bebtelovimab, for those at risk of complications who are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms.

Another approved medication, Paxlovid, has now become widely available in community pharmacies. It is a pill taken by mouth that can be prescribed by a provider for those recovering from home. Currently, only those with certain medical conditions can be prescribed Paxlovid; however, the list is expanding to include more conditions.

Research on the drug has revealed it’s 90 percent effective at preventing severe cases of the virus — and the World Health Organization is strongly recommending Paxlovid as a form of treatment.

How does Paxlovid work?

The COVID-19 medication was actually in the works 19 years ago when the first cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome, also known as SARS, broke out. Work on the medication came to a halt back then but reemerged when COVID-19 began.

To get the full benefits of Paxlovid, you will need to take three pills twice a day for five consecutive days. This regimen is made up of two different drugs: Nirmatrelvir and Ritonavir. The former helps to prevent the virus from replicating, while the latter slows how quickly you process the drug.

Am I eligible for Paxlovid?

At the moment, Paxlovid is reserved for those with certain medical conditions. This is to help those most at risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19. 

As availability increases, though, conditions are also expanding to allow more people to get the treatment. Now those with asthma, diabetes, and obesity qualify for a prescription. Paxlovid is unavailable for those under 12 years old or anyone weighing under 88 pounds.

Are there side effects from Paxlovid?

Although the drug was just recently approved by the FDA, it appears that the side effects are very mild. The most commonly reported is a sensation of bitterness or metallic taste in the mouth during the duration of treatment. Some have also complained of diarrhea, high blood pressure, and muscle aches.

It may be possible for adverse interactions to occur when taking Paxlovid, so it’s recommended that you stop taking any conflicting prescriptions while using the medication. Potentially conflicting medications include anti-cancer medicine, certain sedatives, and certain antipsychotics and analgesics. Even herbal remedies like St. John’s wort may cause a negative reaction.

Can you prevent COVID-19?

You’ve most likely heard the general safety precautions for preventing the spread of COVID-19 by now. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are several things you should do to help keep you and your family (as well as those around you) safe from the virus. These guidelines recommend:

  • Anyone over the age of two should wear a mask fitted to their face when indoors — even if they’ve already been vaccinated.
  • If you’re unvaccinated, do your best to stay six feet away from others in public. If anyone in your household is sick, try to keep a six-foot distance whether you’re vaccinated or not.
  • Create ventilation for indoor spaces whenever possible by opening windows and doors. Indoor spaces without fresh air from the outdoors allow the virus to spread more easily.
  • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important if you’ve been in a public place or any time you blow your nose, sneeze, or cough.

You can reference the CDC’s current guidelines here.

Can urgent care treat COVID-19?

Urgent care centers can test for, diagnose, and treat COVID-19. At CareNow®, we also offer COVID-19 antibody tests. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or were recently exposed, you should get tested for the virus immediately.

Whether you qualify to receive Paxlovid or not, you can help to lessen symptoms by receiving treatment early for COVID-19. With any medication you may be prescribed for the virus, it will be most effective when taken early on.

Even if your provider does not recommend a prescription for you, you can begin treating symptoms at home before they worsen. However, you should ask a physician if you qualify to receive medication to help treat your illness.

If you need to be tested for COVID-19 or have tested positive and are looking for treatment options, consider visiting your local CareNow® clinic. 

We provide what patients want and need: convenience and quality urgent care. Each of our more than 175 locations throughout the country is open after hours and on the weekends.

We’ve also earned the distinction of Accredited Urgent Care Center from our industry’s association, Urgent Care Association (UCA), so you know you’re getting only the best care.

We also offer a Web Check-In® feature so you don’t risk getting others sick while you sit in the waiting room. Instead, wait from the comfort of your own home, car, or office!

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