Mild Cases of COVID-19: Taking Care of Yourself at Home

Most people who get COVID-19 only experience mild symptoms and can recover at home. Use the following guidelines to learn how to treat COVID-19 at home, how to keep people around you healthy, when to seek emergency care and more.

Care Tips

  • Get plenty of rest - Sleep is crucial to physical recovery, keeping the immune system functioning, emotional health and mental health.
  • Stay hydrated - COVID-19 symptoms include fever and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration. Drink water frequently, along with broth, soup, tea with honey and fruit juice. Symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, getting light-headed upon standing and urinating less frequently.
  • Keep a log of your symptoms so you know to contact your doctor if your symptoms keep getting worse. It's also a good idea to use a pulse oximeter to measure your blood oxygen level.
  • Treat your symptoms. Use over-the-counter fever reducers and antidiarrheal medications as needed. Hot showers can help with sore throat and congestion. An inhaler may be needed if you experience chest tightness or wheezing. Talk to your doctor about your treatment plan.
  • Ask for help with essentials such as getting groceries and medicine.
  • Follow your doctor's recommendations.

When To Call Your Doctor

Treatment is focused on alleviating symptoms. However, if you are an older adult or have existing conditions that put you at greater risk of severe illness, it's especially important to contact your doctor as soon as you test positive or begin experiencing symptoms for additional recommendations.

When To Seek Emergency Care

If you or someone with COVID-19 experiences the warning signs listed below, medical attention is needed immediately. Call 911 or your local emergency number if the sick person can't be woken up or experiences any of the following:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent chest pain or pressure
  • New confusion
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Inability to stay awake
  • Pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nail beds — depending on skin tone
  • Pulse oximeter shows blood oxygen level below 90%

Additional Information on Treating COVID-19 At Home

Avoiding Getting Others Sick

If you have COVID-19, here are some important ways to help protect others:

  • Stay home, except to get care when needed
  • Avoid public transportation
  • Stay isolated from others in your household (ideally to one room, avoiding shared spaces in your home as much as possible)
  • Avoid eating with others in your household
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible
  • Frequently clean surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, remotes, counters, etc.
  • Wear a face mask around others
  • Wash hands frequently

Protecting Yourself

If you're caring for or sharing a household with someone who has COVID-19, here are some ways to protect yourself:

  • Frequently clean surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, remotes, counters, etc.
  • Wash hands frequently and avoid touching your face
  • Wear a face mask around someone who is ill
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from the person who is ill
  • Take precautions when doing laundry (don't shake dirty laundry, use hot water, wash your hands after handling, thoroughly dry clothes and disinfect hampers)
  • Wear gloves when handing dishes, cups or utensils used by someone who is sick; dispose of gloves and wash your hands afterward
  • Avoid direct contact with the sick person's bodily fluids
  • Avoid having visitors until the person with COVID-19 has completely recovered and has no signs or symptoms

Isolation/Quarantine Guidelines When You Have COVID-19

If you have COVID-19, it's important to separate yourself from people who aren't sick. Current CDC guidelines recommend isolating until:

  • At least 5 days have passed since your symptoms started, then wear a mask around others for an additional 5 days
  • At least 24 hours have passed with no fever (without the use of fever-reducing medication)
  • Other symptoms are improving - certain symptoms like loss of taste and smell might last for weeks or months, but shouldn't delay ending isolation

Talk to your doctor if you are immunocompromised or have had severe COVID-19.

COVID-19 Stress & Mental Health

Isolation, physical discomfort, exhaustion and anxiety are just a few things that can take a toll on your mental health when you or a loved one is ill with COVID-19. It's more important than ever to take care of yourself during this time.

  • Stay connected with your support system - if isolating, use texts, phone calls, video calls, etc.
  • Take breaks from COVID-19 news and social media
  • Eat healthy meals
  • Stay hydrated
  • Maintain hygiene routines, such as showering and getting dressed
  • Get enough sleep
  • Exercise, stretch, practice breathing exercises and/or meditate
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol or tobacco
  • Engage in enjoyable activities
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