Skip navigation

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

URL of this page: //

Mild to moderate COVID-19 - discharge

You have recently been diagnosed with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). COVID-19 causes an infection in your lungs and may cause problems with other organs, including the kidneys, heart, and liver. Most often it causes a respiratory illness with fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. You may have mild to moderate symptoms or severe illness.

This article is about how to recover from mild-to-moderate COVID-19 that does not require hospital treatment. People with severe illness will usually be treated in the hospital.

Recovery from COVID-19 may take 10 to 14 days or longer depending on your symptoms. Some people have symptoms that go on for months even after they are no longer infected or able to spread the disease to other people. This is called long COVID.

What to Expect at Home

You tested positive for COVID-19 and are well enough to recover at home. While at home, try to separate yourself and stay away from other people both inside and outside your home. This can help protect others from getting the virus.

  • As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from others in your home. Use a separate bathroom if you can. Do not leave your home except to get medical care.
  • Use a well-fitting face mask or respirator that fits well over your nose and mouth without gaps when you see your health care provider and anytime other people are in the same room with you.
  • Take steps to improve ventilation in your home. You can do this by turning on exhaust fans in your bathrooms and kitchen, using a portable air cleaner, and setting the fan on your furnace or air conditioning to "on" if you have central heating and cooling in your home.
  • Wash your hands many times a day with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not easily available, you should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Do not share personal items such as cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding. Wash anything you have used in soap and water.


Your provider may prescribe antiviral medicines to help in your recovery, such as Paxlovid. Be sure to take your medicine as prescribed. Do not miss any doses.


It's important to manage your symptoms, get proper nutrition, and stay active as much as you can as you recover at home.

Managing COVID-19 symptoms

While recovering at home, keep track of your symptoms. Follow your provider's instructions and take medicines as prescribed. If you have severe symptoms, call 911 or the local emergency number.

To help manage symptoms of COVID-19, try the following tips.

  • Rest and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) help reduce fever. Sometimes, providers advise you to use both types of medicine. Take the recommended amount to reduce fever. DO NOT use ibuprofen in children 6 months or younger.
  • A lukewarm bath or sponge bath may help cool a fever. Keep taking medicine -- otherwise your temperature might go back up.
  • For a sore throat, gargle several times a day with warm salt water (1/2 tsp or 3 grams of salt in 1 cup or 240 milliliters of water). Drink warm liquids such as tea, or lemon tea with honey. Suck on hard candies or throat lozenges.
  • Use a vaporizer or take a steamy shower to increase moisture in the air, reduce nasal congestion, and help soothe a dry throat and cough.
  • Saline spray can also help reduce nasal congestion.
  • To help relieve diarrhea, drink 8 to 10 glasses of clear liquids, such as water, diluted fruit juices, and clear soups to make up for fluid loss. Avoid dairy products, fried foods, caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated drinks.
  • If you have nausea, eat small meals with bland foods. Avoid foods with strong smells. Try to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water or clear fluids every day to stay hydrated.
  • Do not smoke, and stay away from secondhand smoke.


COVID-19 symptoms such as loss of taste and smell, nausea, or tiredness can make it hard to want to eat. But eating a healthy diet is important for your recovery. These suggestions may help:

  • Try to eat healthy foods you enjoy most of the time. Eat anytime you feel like eating, not just at mealtime.
  • Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and protein foods. Include a protein food with every meal (tofu, beans, legumes, cheese, fish, poultry, or lean meat)
  • Try adding herbs, spices, onion, garlic, ginger, hot sauce or spice, mustard, vinegar, pickles, and other strong flavors to help increase enjoyment.
  • Try foods with different textures (soft or crunchy) and temperatures (cool or warm) to see what is more appealing.
  • Eat smaller meals more often throughout the day.
  • Don't fill up on liquids before or during your meals.

Physical Activity

Even though you don't have a lot of energy, it's important to move your body every day. This will help you regain your strength.

  • Deep breathing exercises may increase the amount of oxygen in your lungs and help open up airways. Ask your provider to show you.
  • Simple stretching exercises keep your body from getting stiff. Try to sit upright as much as you can during the day.
  • Try walking around your home for short periods every day. Try to do 5 minutes, 5 times a day. Slowly build up every week.


Once you start feeling better, you can go back to your normal activities if both of the following things are true:

  • For at least 24 hours, you have been feeling better and your symptoms are improving AND
  • You have not had a fever for at least 24 hours, and you are not using fever-reducing medicine

Even though you feel better, you may still be able to spread the virus to others for several days. For this reason, once you go back to your normal activities, continue to protect others from illness by taking these steps for 5 days:

  • Practice good hygiene
  • Take steps for cleaner air
  • Wear a mask around others
  • Practice physical distancing by avoiding close contact and avoiding crowds
  • Self-test before being indoors with others

If your symptoms or fever return after resuming normal activities, you should go back to staying home and away from others. Once your fever and symptoms improve for more than 24 hours, you can resume activities while taking steps to protect others for 5 more days.

When to Call the Doctor

You should contact your provider if your symptoms are getting worse.

Call 911 or your local emergency number if you have:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Confusion or inability to wake up
  • Bluish, gray, or pale discoloration of lips or face
  • Seizures
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness in a limb or one side of the face
  • Swelling of the legs or arms
  • Any other symptoms that are severe or concern you

Alternate Names

Coronavirus - 2019 discharge; SARS-CoV-2 discharge; COVID-19 recovery; Coronavirus disease - recovery; Recovering from COVID-19



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. COVID-19 treatments and medications. Updated January 18, 2024. Accessed March 6, 2024.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Respiratory virus guidance. Updated March 1, 2024. Accessed March 5, 2024.

National Institutes of Health website. COVID-19 treatment guidelines: Therapeutic management of nonhospitalized patients with COVID-19. Updated February 29, 2024. Accessed March 6, 2024.

Review Date 2/22/2023

Updated by: Frank D. Brodkey, MD, FCCM, Associate Professor, Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 03/12/2024.

Related MedlinePlus Health Topics