By Robbie Owens

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Health experts say the COVID-19 omicron variant surge is still weeks away from peaking– and that’s creating a huge demand for everything from testing kits to over-the-counter medicines to help manage the symptoms.

“They had a cough, and it wouldn’t go away,” said Lisa Jimenez while waiting to get her two daughters tested at a testing site in Mesquite. “They tested for strep, it was positive.”

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After all, there’s still so much of everything else going around.

So much so that those looking to soothe cold, flu, allergy, even mild COVID-19 symptoms, are finding drug store shelves in the cough and cold aisle, bare.

“My first thought– did I miss a national recall?” said Mark Casanova, MD, following a recent unsuccessful shopping trip.

Dr. Casanova serves on the Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force. He says omicron’s rapid spread is impacting every aspect of the healthcare system, from access to over-the-counter medications to monoclonal antibody treatments.

“It’s hard for us to put into words and describe just how contagious this variant is. I think many of us physicians are just in the last three weeks seeing more of our patients test positive than we have collectively, throughout this pandemic.”

So Dr. Casanova is encouraging patients and anyone who will listen to dust off that COVID-19 plan, as he agrees with national experts who have warned that everyone will likely be exposed.

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So he continues to encourage the vaccine and safety precautions to limit the severity of infections. Yes, and even home remedies won’t hurt if nothing else is handy.

“Honey lemon tea,” can help soothe irritated throats, and “chicken and noodle soup, a nap and plenty of water,” advises Dr. Casanova.

“Tea with lemon and honey,” advises Elias Pargas. “I know a lot of things in the store, you can’t find. That’s what I recommend.”

Nutritionist Linda Perez advises “green tea and parsley teas” to help cleanse the system, and lots of Vitamin C.

And while Dr. Casanova says home remedies that “won’t hurt” are likely okay to try.

Although he advises against anything “exotic” or giving children medicines meant for adults.

And finally, he says even if symptoms appear mild those who are not vaccinated or have underlying health conditions should alert their physicians about a positive diagnosis.

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Because while omicron may not be as deadly as delta, “less than horrible, is bad.”