Home care is proving to be a game-changer in the management of Covid-19. A little alertness on your part will go a long way in keeping you safe. Invest in a set of wellness devices that help you stay ahead of the curve in anticipating an emergency- get an oximeter to measure your oxygen levels, a digital BP monitor, a nebuliser/oxygen kit/steamer, oxygen concentrator and even an air purifier, in case you have respiratory problems. If you are a diabetic, there is a every reason to buy a glucometer. Says 45-year-old Delhi-based Anita Dua: “A trip to the hospital, doctor’s clinic or even labs must be avoided at all costs. So we have built a mini hospital at home to keep health issue at bay.”
Portea Medical, which operates in the space of home diagnostics, providing medical assistance and equipment (lease/purchase), claim that in the past six months, it has done home isolation management for over 150,000 patients and managed oxygen therapy for over 7,000 at home. Says Vaibhav Tewari, COO, Portea Medical: “We have seen demand for home oxygen therapy, oxygen saturation monitoring, and other vitals like temperature, blood pressure. In particular, we have seen an increase in requirements for oxygen concentrator, portable oxygen cylinders, nebulisers, pulse oximeters, non-contact thermometers, and home care ventilators.”
Your Covid kit
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keep a basic Covid “first aid” kit ready, says Dr K K Aggarwal, President CMAAO (Confederation of Medical Associations of Asia and Oceania) and HCFI (Heart Care Foundation of India): “There is no cure in sight for Covid-19–a safe and effective vaccine seems far-off. The WHO Solidarity trial concluded that drugs currently used for treating Covid-19 (remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, interferon and ritonavir plus lopinavir) had little or no effect on mortality in hospitalised patients. Major drug and vaccine trials have been halted following unexplained effects. In such a scenario, prevention is the only answer.”
Fever may often be the first symptom of Covid-19. Experts recommend monitoring body temperature twice daily, at 6am and 6pm, to look for any rise in temperature. Mercury thermometers have been banned but one must have a digital or non-contact device, (also known as a laser thermometer, which allows temperature measurements from a safe distance, with an infrared mechanism).
Don’t forget to include a measuring tape in your Covid kit. Says Aggarwal: “Obesity is a risk factor for severe Covid-19 infection and has a direct relationship with poor cardio-respiratory fitness. If the waist circumference is more than 80 cm in females and over 90 cm in males, one needs to manage one’s weight and work towards reducing it.”
Patients with diabetes or hypertension who develop Covid-19, are more prone to fatalities. A BP instrument and glucometer are must-haves in every home during the Covid pandemic.
The key brands in Glucometer include Dr Morepen, Accu-Chek, Dr Trust, One Touch, Bayer, Contour Plus, On Call and Omron, and are priced in the Rs 1,200-3,500 range. No set-up is required. Just insert a strip, apply a small blood sample and it gives results in under four seconds. The meter automatically logs your blood glucose results and wirelessly transfers them to your smartphone. Most of these can be connected to a diabetes-management app such as the Accu-Chek, which is connected to mySugr app. The meter automatically stores at least 720 blood glucose results in memory, but only the last blood glucose result is visible. In order to view the stored blood glucose results, transfer them to a compatible software application.
According to Dr Behram Pardiwala, Director, Internal Medicine and Academics, Wockhardt Hospitals, South Mumbai: “If you have type-2 diabetes, then go to your nearby medical shop without any delay, and pick up a glucometer after consulting the doctor. The glucometer will help you in monitoring fluctuations in the glucose levels in the bloodstream. I would even suggest the use of a weighing scale to check your weight and keep obesity at bay, as well as a pedometer to check how many steps you take daily and how many calories you burn. Similarly, due to a hectic and stressful lifestyle, one may also encounter high blood pressure. In order to check high or low blood pressure, you can buy blood pressure monitors. If you notice any irregularities after monitoring the BP, consult your doctor.”
Blood Pressure Monitors (BPMs) are important to monitor your systolic and diastolic readings and pulse rate. The key brands include Dr Morepen, Omron, Dr Trust, Sense Q, HealthSense that retail, in a price range of Rs 2,000-6,990.
Omron has seen a surge of as much as 30 per cent in sales of connected BPMs in the post Covid-19 months. Says Rohit Saini, GM-Sales & Marketing, Omron Healthcare India: “Digital BP monitors are more accurate than manual BP monitors because of less manual intervention and technology-based monitoring. They are easy to use and are designed to be used at home easily even by first-time users and people staying alone without any assistance.”
What are the few things a layperson must check before buying a BP monitor at home? Whether you buy upper arm or wrist BPM, the most important thing is to be aware of the proper technique to measure the BP. Before taking BP readings, it is advisable to sit quietly for five minutes and avoid any strenuous activity. Avoid moving, talking or thinking about stressful situations because these could increase BP. The blood pressure should be measured on the same arm daily. If a rolled-up sleeve is too tight, remove the garment to avoid inaccurate readings resulting from a tight arm. After one reading is done, wait for five minutes before taking the next to ensure accuracy.
Preferably, two readings can be taken to ascertain the results are accurate, with a gap of five minutes each. Says Omron’s Saini: “Check your BP in the morning before breakfast or intake of any food or medicines and also in the evening, preferably an hour before going to bed. Maintain a gap of minimum 30 minutes after dinner. One should not take readings immediately on waking up. Once the morning ablutions are over–-readings can be somewhat higher on a full bladder–-the BP check-up should be done before exercising or consuming food and medications. Avoid caffeine, alcohol or tobacco for at least half an hour before a BP measurement. Moreover, it is best to take BP readings at the same time daily.”
A set of steam vapourisers, nebulisers, peak-flow meters, respirometers, three-ball breathing exercisers can be used to manage respiratory issues. Nebulisers are different from steamers as they will only convert medicine capsules to mist for inhaling. They will not to generate steam like a steam vapourizer. A nebuliser ensures the right drug delivery at the right location in the respiratory tract and should be used to treat the upper as well as lower airways. Studies have shown that it helps to manage and prevent severe attacks of asthma, bronchitis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and the seasonal flu onset by change of weather every year.
Keep a peak-flow meter to measure peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR). It is a portable and washable device, used for one person (not to be shared). PEFR is a person’s maximum speed of expiration–how fast he can breathe out maximum air. It is a rough indicator of lung capacity. PEFR is required for managing asthma, bronchitis and post-covid bronchitis. It is important to know if the lungs have been damaged following recovery from Covid. Measure your baseline lung capacity. Regularly monitor your lung capacity for a healthy recovery. Repeat it thrice and note the highest reading (personal best). It is generally recommended to keep PEF above 80 per cent. If it is between 60-80 per cent, consult your doctor immediately. If it becomes 50 per cent of your personal best, it is a medical emergency.
Pulse oximeter, a small, clip-like device that attaches to a body part, most commonly the index finger, has become another essential gadget to have at home. It monitors pulse, breathing rate and blood oxygen levels through a non-invasive, painless test that measures your oxygen saturation level, or the oxygen levels in your blood. Fingertip pulse oximeter costs anywhere between Rs 900-2,500 and brands include Intex, Dr. Trust, Gilma, BPL, Microtek, DR VAKU. To ensure accuracy, try to stay still while waiting for your reading–the oxygen saturator and the heart are at the same level, the measurement results are optimal. Moving too fast will affect the accuracy. Fingers should not be wet and one must avoid long nails on the finger used for the reading.
Says Aggarwal, “Oxygen saturation (SpO2) must be measured twice a day. Be alert to a drop in oxygen saturation below 95 per cent. Don’t wait for it to fall below 92 per cent. Once the trigger is known, it is time to act. Timely detection of hypoxia and administration of oxygen will save lives. Do a six-minute walk test (6MWT) and measure oxygen saturation before and after. A fall of SPO2 by five per cent or more is a significant fall. If your walk distance is less than 200 metres, your 6MWT is abnormal. The SpO2 monitor will also measure heart rate alongside oxygen saturation. In Covid, the heart rate increases on exertion.”
Oxygen kits are important too. Most healthy patients will not require any oxygen therapy at home in the post-Covid recuperation period, but some with post covid residual inflammation, or individuals with any other comorbidities such as COPD and cardiac ailments may require LTOT (Long-term Oxygen therapy), with or without an NIV (Non-Invasive ventilator) support at home. There is also a rising demand for multipara monitoring requirements for such symptomatic patients.
Right now we are spending most of our time indoors, what with WFH and home schooling. Air purifiers, like air conditioners, have become essential products. Says Varun Pahwa, President-DRI, Pahwa Group: “One must be careful that along with an air purifier, ample amount of fresh air should also be allowed in to keep the space ventilated and prevent any infiltration. However, room air purifiers are end-of-tube solutions–they allow the pollutants to enter the building and then clean the contaminated air. The best way to purify the air is to remove contaminants at source. Currently, High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) purifiers are considered top-of-the-line and recommended, especially by allergy and asthma doctors to help manage symptoms.”
While choosing an air purifier, one should ask the question: Why do I need an air purifier in the first place? Says Akshay Singhal, Founder-Log 9 Materials: “Today, there are different types of air purifiers in the market for allergies, smoke and toxic gases, chemical sensitivity, asthma, and even coronavirus. One should know the air change rates. The air change per hour rate of a purifier indicates exactly how many times in an hour it will be cleaning the air inside the room. An air purifier with at least 3-4 air changes is recommended.”
There are a whole range of devices to disinfect and sanitise your items at home. Take the case of Daily Objects which has launched UV-C based disinfecting solutions. Says Pankaj Garg, CEO & Founder, Daily Objects: “As the name suggests, the product allows you to disinfect all accessories of daily-use such as mobile phones, spectacles and face masks.”
Corona Oven is another invention of 2020, which disinfects everything from fresh groceries to milk packets, jewellery to currency, and much more within 10 minutes, using Ultra-Violet C Technology. Wonderchef has come up with Prato Anti-viral Oven at Rs 4,499. Log 9 Materials has come up with ovens of different capacities measuring 20-40 Litres, in a price range of Rs 10,999-23,999. It has a host of other products such as POS Sanitiser, Corona Cabinet and Corona UV Tower.
Hygiene tech is a big category. Says Arpit Jain, the founder Maison d’Auraine: “Outside India tech-enabled hygiene products industry is already worth $10 billion. With the launch of Live.able we want people to take their health, wellness and sanitation very seriously. Our products, VirusBloc Box (Rs 14,500) and VirusBloc Wand (Rs 9,999) come with a two-year warranty and kill the DNA of virus within 45 seconds.”
Table: Wellness gadgets and kits you must keep at home
||Price Range (Rs)
|Blood Pressure Monitor
||Omron, DrTrust, Sense Q, HealthSense
Fingertip Pulse Oximeter
|Intex, Dr Trust, Gilma, BPL, Microtek, DR VAKU
||Dr Morepen, Accu-Chek, Dr TRust, One Touch, Bayer, Contour Plus, On Call, Omron
|Portable Oxygen Concentrators
|Portable Limited ECG
||AliveCor, SonoHealth, CONTEC, Emay
|Non Contact thermometers
||BPL, care4U, Dr Odin, Microtek, Dr Morepen, Sahyog Wellness
||Dr Trust, Rossmax, Vandelay, DOYO, Medlife, Amkay, BPL, Omron
|Peak flow meter
||Rossmax, Omron, Microlife
||Control D, Omron, Dr Trust, Dr Morepen, Rossmax
||Corona Oven Wonderchef, LOG 9 Materials
||IQAir HeathpRO, Dyson, Samsung, Mi Air, Philips, Sharp, O2 cure, Havells
|Tech Enabled Hygiene products and disinfectants
||Daily Objects, Live.able, LOG 9 Materials
Source: Market Research