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How to Recover From Covid-19 at Home


What do I need to know about recovery at home from COVID-19?

COVID-19 can cause a range of symptoms, from mild to severe. If you do not need to be treated in a hospital, you will be given instructions to use at home. You will need to watch for worsening symptoms and seek immediate care if needed. You will also need to stay physically apart from others so you do not spread the virus to anyone. Information about COVID-19 is still being learned. It is not known if a person can be infected with the virus again after recovering from COVID-19. It is also not known if or for how long the virus can continue to be passed to others.

What can I do to manage my symptoms?

Mild symptoms may get better on their own. The following may be used to manage your symptoms:

  • Decongestants help reduce nasal congestion and help you breathe more easily. If you take decongestant pills, they may make you feel restless or cause problems with your sleep. Do not use decongestant sprays for more than a few days.
  • Cough suppressants help reduce coughing. Ask your healthcare provider which type of cough medicine is best for you.
  • To soothe a sore throat, gargle with warm salt water, or use throat lozenges or a throat spray. Your healthcare provider may recommend a cough medicine. Drink more liquids to thin and loosen mucus and to prevent dehydration. Use decongestants or saline drops as directed for nasal congestion.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.

How can I keep others safe while I am recovering at home?

Healthcare providers will give you specific instructions to follow. The following are general guidelines to remind you how to keep others safe until you are well:

Prevent COVID-19 Infection
  • Wash your hands often. Use soap and water as much as possible. You can use hand sanitizer that contains alcohol if soap and water are not available. Do not share towels with anyone. If you use paper towels, throw them away in a lined trash can kept in your room or area. Use a covered trash can, if possible.
  • Cover sneezes and coughs. Turn your face away and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Throw the tissue away. Use the bend of your arm if a tissue is not available. Then wash your hands well with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
  • Wear a face covering (mask) around anyone who does not live in your home. A covering will help prevent you from passing the virus to others. It is not known for sure if or for how long the virus can be passed after recovery. Do not wear a plastic face shield instead of a covering. Use a disposable non-medical mask, or make a cloth covering with at least 2 layers. Cover your mouth and your nose. Securely fasten it under your chin and on the sides of your face. A face covering is not a substitute for other safety measures. Continue social distancing and washing your hands often.
    How to Wear a Face Covering (Mask)
  • Do not go out of your home unless it is necessary. If possible, ask someone who is not infected to go out for groceries, medicines, and household items. Ask your healthcare provider for other ways to have appointments. Some providers offer phone, video, or other types of appointments. If you need to be seen in person, call ahead to make sure the office will be ready for you.
  • Do not let anyone into your home, room, or area unless it is necessary. If possible, stay in a separate area or room of your home if you live with others. No one should go into the area or room except to give you care. Only allow medical professionals or other necessary helpers in. Wear a face covering. Remind them to wear face coverings and to wash their hands. If possible, ask someone who is well to care for your baby. You can put breast milk in bottles for the person to use, if needed. Wear a clean face covering if you need to breastfeed or express or pump breast milk. Family members and friends should not visit you. You can visit with others by phone, video chat, e-mail, or similar systems. It is important to stay connected with others in your life while you recover.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about your baby. Tell him or her if you have any questions or concerns about caring for or bonding with your baby. He or she will tell you when to bring your baby in for check-ups and vaccines. He or she will also tell you what to do if you think your baby was infected with the coronavirus.
  • Do not handle live animals unless it is necessary. Until more is known, it is best not to touch, play with, or handle live animals. Some animals, including pets, have been infected with the new coronavirus. Do not handle or care for animals until you are well. Care includes feeding, petting, and cuddling your pet. Do not let your pet lick you or share your food. Ask someone who is not infected to take care of your pet, if possible. If you must care for a pet, wear a face covering. Wash your hands before and after you give care. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to keep a service animal safe, if needed.
  • Follow directions from your healthcare provider for being around others after you recover. It is not known for sure if or for how long a recovered person can pass the virus to others. Your provider may give you instructions, such as continuing social distancing or wearing a face covering around others. The following are general guidelines for when you can be around others:
    • If you never developed any symptoms, wait at least 10 days after your positive test. Your provider may want you to have 2 negative tests in a row at least 24 hours apart. This depends on how available testing is in your area.
    • If you did have symptoms, wait at least 10 days after the symptoms first appeared. Then you will need to have no fever for 24 hours without fever medicine. Most of your symptoms will also need to be gone. A loss of taste or smell may continue for several months. It is considered okay to be around others if this is your only symptom.
    • If you were hospitalized for COVID-19 and needed oxygen, your provider will tell you how long to wait. You may need to wait until 20 days after symptoms appeared. It may be less if you have 2 negative tests in a row at least 24 hours apart. This will depend on how available testing is in your area.

Where can I find more information?

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    1600 Clifton Road
    Atlanta , GA 30333
    Phone: 1- 800 - 232-4636
    Web Address:

What should I do if I think someone in my home may be infected?

Do the following to protect others:

  • If emergency care is needed, tell the operator about the possible infection, or call ahead and tell the emergency department.
  • Call a healthcare provider for instructions if symptoms are mild. Anyone who may be infected should not arrive without calling first. The provider will need to protect staff members and other patients.
  • The person who may be infected needs to wear a face covering while getting medical care. This will help lower the risk of infecting others. Coverings are not used for anyone who is younger than 2 years, has breathing problems, or cannot remove it. The provider can give you instructions for anyone who cannot wear a covering.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) or an emergency department if:

  • You have trouble breathing or shortness of breath at rest.
  • You have chest pain or pressure that lasts longer than 5 minutes.
  • You become confused or hard to wake.
  • Your lips or face are blue.
  • You have a fever of 104°F (40°C) or higher.

When should I call my doctor?

  • You have new, returning, or worsening symptoms.
  • Someone in your home does not have symptoms of COVID-19 but had close physical contact within 14 days with you.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.