If you have any symptoms of COVID-19:
- self-isolate (stay in your room)
- wear a medical or respirator face mask if you have to be around other people
Do these even if you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccination, or had COVID-19 in the past.
Certain groups of people with symptoms should get a COVID-19 test.
Most people feel better a few weeks after a COVID-19 infection. Many of the symptoms can be treated at home.
The most important thing you can do is to protect others from catching COVID-19. It is especially important to protect people at higher risk from COVID-19.
self-isolate - when you can stop self-isolating
get lots of rest and sleep
drink enough water to avoid dehydration - your pee should be light yellow or clear
eat healthily - eating well if you have a reduced appetite or taste changes
monitor and treat your symptoms
You may not have all the symptoms of COVID-19 or your symptoms may be mild. Symptoms may vary for different age groups or variants of the virus. It can take up to 14 days for symptoms to show.
Any treatment you may need depends on the symptoms you have. Some people do not need any treatment if their symptoms are very mild.
Find out more about symptoms and treatment of:
- shortness of breath
- lost or changed sense of smell
- vomiting or diarrhoea
- sore throat
Non-urgent advice: Contact your GP if:
- your symptoms do not improve after 4 weeks
- you are over 60 or at higher risk of COVID-19 and your symptoms get worse
- you are worried about ongoing or new symptoms
Medicines to treat symptoms
The best medicines to use depend on:
- your symptoms
- other medical conditions you have
- other medicines you're taking
Before taking any medicine, read the full package leaflet that comes with your medicine. Follow any advice a healthcare professional gives you.
If you are at high risk of COVID-19
Medicines are available to treat people with COVID-19 who are at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill.
- Paxlovid - an oral medicine taken as tablets
- Sotrovimab - given through a drip in your arm (infusion)
You'll be told by your doctor or consultant if you need these medicines.
Paracetamol and ibuprofen
Paracetamol or ibuprofen may help to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains. Paracetamol is usually recommended as the first treatment for most people.
Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAID). It is OK to take ibuprofen or other NSAIDs if you have COVID-19.
Only take one anti-inflammatory medicine at a time. It is OK to take paracetamol and an anti-inflammatory at the same time.
Antibiotics do not work against COVID-19 or any viruses. They will not relieve your symptoms or speed up your recovery.
Only take antibiotics if they are prescribed by your GP. It can be harmful to take them when you do not need them.
Many people feel better in a few days or weeks after a COVID-19 infection has gone. Most people will make a full recovery within 12 weeks. But for some people, symptoms can last longer. Everyone is different.
Your recovery time could depend on:
- how severe your illness was
- any existing health conditions you have
- if you were in hospital or an intensive care unit (ICU)
Having good and bad days is normal.
Common problems while recovering from COVID-19 include:
- ongoing or recurring COVID-19 symptoms
- problems clearing phlegm from your lungs
- weaker physical fitness, aches and pains, or problems moving around or walking
- loss of appetite, weight loss or stomach problems
- difficulties swallowing and voice problems
- sleep problems
- problems with memory and thinking (‘brain fog’)
- changes in your mood, depression or anxiety
- nightmares or flashbacks
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Returning to work and other activities
You can return to your usual activities such as work and school when your self-isolation period ends.
It's OK to stop self-isolating even if you have a mild cough or changes to your sense of smell – these can last for weeks after the infection has gone.
Try not to go back to work until you feel ready. Avoid trying to push through if you are still feeling unwell.
Supports and services
Phone your GP if you are having difficulty recovering from COVID-19.