Many of the symptoms of COVID-19 can be treated at home. Most people feel better after a few days or weeks.
You do not need a COVID-19 test unless a GP or health professional advises you to.
stay at home until 48 hours after your symptoms are mostly or fully gone
limit contact with other people
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
Any treatment you may need depends on the symptoms you have. Some people do not need any treatment if their symptoms are very mild. It can take up to 14 days for symptoms to show.
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.
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.
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.
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
Adults can return to work when they are 48 hours without any symptoms. If you have a positive COVID-19 test, you must wait for 5 days and feel well. You should not have a high temperature.
Children can return to school when they feel well and no longer have a high temperature. If they had a positive COVID-19 test, they should stay home and avoid contact with others for 3 full days after they took the test or from the day their symptoms started (whichever was earliest).
It's OK to return to your normal activities 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.