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How to Recover From Covid-19 at Home

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jul 4, 2022.

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

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. 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. 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.

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:

  • 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.
    Handwashing
  • 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 others. Use a cloth covering with at least 2 layers. You can also create layers by putting a cloth covering over a disposable non-medical mask. Cover your mouth and your nose. The covering should fit snugly against the bridge of your nose. Securely fasten it under your chin and on the sides of your face.
    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. Wear a face covering around others. Remind others to wear face coverings and to wash their hands.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about your baby. 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. Tell your provider 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. 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.
  • Follow directions from your healthcare provider for when you can be around others. Your provider will give you specific instructions. In general, you will need to wait 5 to 10 days after symptoms started or you got a positive test result. Wait even if you got a COVID-19 vaccine and 1 or 2 boosters. You can still be infected after you are vaccinated. You may spread the virus to others without knowing you are infected. Do not travel until your provider says it is okay.
Prevent COVID-19 Infection

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: http://www.cdc.gov

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) 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.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • 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 has symptoms of COVID-19.
  • 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.