The COVID-19 crisis continues with no real chance of getting good news, especially on the treatment front. Researchers are testing a variety of drugs, some new, some that have been around a while and some being used for other things that may be effective against the virus, but real progress in getting an effective treatment seems about as slow as the chances of getting enough testing kits for everyone who wants one.

There was a report on the news yesterday about a couple that heard the name of one of the drugs being explored for use on the COVID-19, and dosed themselves with a similar-sounding chemical used for cleaning fish tanks and poisoned themselves. The wife survived; her husband did not.

New drugs do not get picked off of trees. They have to be developed in a lab and designed to target specific diseases, which can take years. Then they have to be tested, retested and tested again, and documented to the nth degree before they start the process of approval for use, something that can take even more time.

In the meantime, people — lots of people — are getting sick.

From the beginning, the experts have said the COVID-19 presents with flu-like symptoms and in the lack of a treatment for the virus, doctors recommend people avoid the contagion if at all possible, and if that is not possible, to treat the symptoms.

I have a lot of experience in treating the symptoms. Because I have high blood pressure, something that has developed over the years, doctors told me eventually I had to stop using decongestants for the stuffy, runny noses from seasonal allergies I have suffered with all of my life. Years ago, I switched to medications that would not hike my BP. Trouble was, they did not work as well on the nasal congestion and the overabundance of snot that runs down my throat several times a year, bringing sore throats and laryngitis and the coughs and wheezing caused by the mucus when it gets to the lungs.

It’s terrible to know there are options out there that will make me feel better but are not available to me.

So when I develop allergies or a cold, instead of one pill fits all I end up taking different drugs for different symptoms. This is expensive and can be very complicated, especially when you feel really crappy already.

Coronavirus, for the vast majority of people who will get it, has many of the same symptoms as the common cold or flu, and the experts advise treating it as you would a cold or flu, with over the counter medications.

I went to the internet to see what OTC products the experts are recommending. They include acetaminophen, most commonly known as Tylenol, rather than ibuprofen, like Advil, as a fever reducer, to help avoid things like liver or kidney problems or stomach ulcer problems; an expectorant containing guaifenesin; cough suppressants with dextromethorphan; and decongestants like pseudoephedrine.

Pseudoephedrine is a problem for people like me with hypertension and people with glaucoma or thyroid conditions should also avoid it.

A good throat lozenge, with or without sugar, is a must for a sore throat brought on by coughing or sinus drip.

Since the decongestant I use is not the most effective, I use a saline spray for nasal congestion. It doesn’t have any drugs in it, but it will moisten the nasal membranes and make it easier to blow your nose.

Often when I have a cough I will alternate taking guaifenesin with ingesting spicy hot peppers. Capsaicin, the stuff that puts the heat into peppers, is the main ingredient in guaifenesin, so I usually put several drops of whatever hot sauce I have in the fridge in a half a glass of cold water and drink it down fast. It only burns a little that way. I also eat a lot of picante sauce or pico de gallo with other food when I am congested. As any fan of Mexican or Thai food or those curry lovers out there can tell you, that stuff will clear your head for sure. And it’s tasty, too.

Sally Boswell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6962 or at

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