COVID-19 and Your Health (2023)

What to Do If You Are Sick

Updated Mar. 22, 2022



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If you test positive and are an older adult or someone who is at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, treatment is available. Contact a healthcare provider right away after a positive test to determine if you are eligible, even if your symptoms are mild right now. You can also visit aTest to Treat locationand, if eligible, receive a prescription from a provider. Don’t delay: Treatment must be started within the first few days to be effective.

If you have a fever, cough, or other symptoms, you might have COVID-19. Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. If you are sick:

  • Keep track of your symptoms.
  • If you havean emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), call 911.

Steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick

If you test positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, follow the steps below to care for yourself and to help protect other people in your home and community.

Stay home for at least 5 days

  • Stay home for 5 days and isolate from others in your home. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas and do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask
  • Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.
  • Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing, or have any other emergency warning signs, or if you think it is an emergency.
  • Do not travel and avoid public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis if possible.
(Video) COVID-19 and Your Health

Separate yourself from other people

As much as possible, stay in a specific roomand away from other people and pets in your home. If possible, you should use a separate bathroom. If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a well-fittingmask.

Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive. By letting your close contactsknow they may have been exposed to COVID-19, you are helping to protect everyone.

  • SeeCOVID-19 and Animals if you have questions about pets.
  • If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, someone from the health department may call you. Answer the callto slow the spread.

Monitor your symptoms

(Video) Covid-19 and Your Lung Health

  • Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, or other symptoms.
  • Follow care instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department. Your local health authorities may give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.

When to seek emergency medical attention

Look for emergency warning signs*for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

Call ahead before visiting your doctor

  • Call ahead.Many medical visits for routine care are being postponed or done by phone or telemedicine.
  • If you have a medical appointment that cannot be postponed, call your doctor’s office,and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients.

If you are sick, wear a well-fitting mask

  • You should wear a mask if you must be around other people or animals, including pets (even at home).
  • Wear a mask with the best fit, protection, and comfort for you.
  • You don’t need to wear the mask if you are alone. If you can’t put on a mask (because of trouble breathing, for example), cover your coughs and sneezes in some other way. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from other people. This will help protect the people around you.
  • Masks should not be placed on young children under age 2 years, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is not able to remove the mask without help.

Cover your coughs and sneezes

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Throw away used tissues in a lined trash can.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Clean your hands often

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
  • Soap and water are the best option, especially if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Handwashing Tips
(Video) Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Your Oral Health

Avoid sharing personal household items

  • Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home.
  • Wash these items thoroughly after using them with soap and water or put in the dishwasher.

Clean surfaces in your home regularly

  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces (for example, doorknobs, tables, handles, light switches, and countertops) in your “sick room” and bathroom. In shared spaces, you should clean and disinfect surfaces and items after each use by the person who is ill.
  • If you are sick and cannot clean, a caregiver or other person should only clean and disinfect the area around you (such as your bedroom and bathroom) on an as needed basis. Your caregiver/other person should wait as long as possible (at least several hours) and wear a mask before entering, cleaning, and disinfecting shared spaces that you use.
  • Clean and disinfect areas that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
  • Use household cleaners and disinfectants. Clean visible dirty surfaces with household cleaners containing soap or detergent. Then, use a household disinfectant.
      • Use a product from EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19)
      • Be sure to follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product. Many products recommend keeping the surface wet with a disinfectant for a certain period of time (look at “contact time” on the product label).
      • You may also need to wear personal protective equipment, such as gloves, depending on the directions on the product label.
      • Immediately after disinfecting, wash your handswith soap and water for 20 seconds.

COVID-19 and Your Health (1)

Take steps to improve ventilation at home

  • Improve ventilation (air flow) at home to help prevent from spreading COVID-19 to other people in your household.
  • Clear out COVID-19 virus particles in the air by opening windows, using air filters, and turning on fans in your home.
  • Use this interactive toolto learn how to improve air flow in your home.

When you can be around others after being sick with COVID-19

(Video) The Power of Nutrition: Chronic Disease, COVID-19 and Your Health

Deciding when you can be around others is different for different situations. Find out when you can safely end home isolation.

For any additional questions about your care, contact your healthcare provider or state or local health department.

Video and Print Resources

COVID-19 and Your Health (2)

10 Things You Can Do to Manage COVID-19 at Home

Video Length: 00:01:32

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10 Things You Can Do to Manage Your COVID-19 Symptoms at Home

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Don’t Delay: Test Soon and Treat Early

File Details: 361 KB, 1 page

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More Information

  • Travelers
  • Specific Groups of People
  • People Who Are Sick
  • Healthcare Professionals
  • Health Departments
  • Laboratories

Top of Page

(Video) COVID-19 symptoms, prevention, and treatment | Stanford Center for Health Education


How does COVID-19 affect your health? ›

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you may experience stress, anxiety, fear, sadness and loneliness. And mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression, can worsen.

How long will I test positive for Covid after having it? ›

They are typically the most reliable tests for people with or without symptoms. These tests detect viral genetic material, which may stay in your body for up to 90 days after you test positive. Therefore, you should not use a NAAT if you have tested positive in the last 90 days.

What is the greatest challenge that you have experienced because of COVID-19? ›

Social isolation is one of the biggest mental health challenges we are facing with this crisis. Many people are living alone or away from their support systems, which are usually essential wellbeing boosters in a time of crisis.

Are you still contagious after testing positive for Covid? ›

When do you stop being contagious if you have COVID-19? It depends. If you have a mild illness and your symptoms are getting better, you're probably not contagious after 10 days. If you have a severe illness or a weakened immune system, you can be contagious for up to 3 weeks.

What helps COVID recovery? ›

Most people with coronavirus (COVID-19) or symptoms of COVID-19 feel better within a few weeks.
Treating a high temperature
  • get lots of rest.
  • drink plenty of fluids (water is best) to avoid dehydration – drink enough so your pee is light yellow and clear.
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you feel uncomfortable.

What does COVID stand for? ›

COVID-19 – Coronavirus Disease 2019. DNA – deoxyribonucleic acid. ICU – intensive care unit.

How long is Omicron contagious for? ›

We know that people tend to be most infectious early in the course of their infection. With Omicron, most transmission occurs during the one to two days before onset of symptoms, and in the two to three days afterwards.

How long does Covid stay in your body? ›

Most people with COVID-19 get better within a few days to a few weeks after infection, so at least four weeks after infection is the start of when post-COVID conditions could first be identified. Anyone who was infected can experience post-COVID conditions.

How long do Omicron symptoms last? ›

How long do omicron symptoms last? Most people who test positive with any variant of COVID-19 typically experience some symptoms for a couple weeks.

How should you deal with difficulties and problems in your life? ›

10 Ways to Overcome Challenges in Life
  • Make A Plan. While you don't know what is going to happen in the future, you can always plan ahead. ...
  • Know You're Not Alone. Every person in this world has their low points. ...
  • Ask For Help. ...
  • Feel Your Feelings. ...
  • Accept Support. ...
  • Help Others. ...
  • Think Big. ...
  • Positive Mindset.

How did you overcome the pandemic? ›

Take care of yourself, eat regularly, exercise, sleep enough and reduce all other sources of stress. Do things that give you back the control of your own life. Dedicate time to activities that improve your mood.

How do you cope with challenges? ›

10 tips for coping with the hard stuff
  1. Talk to someone. Share your worries with a trusted friend, family member or health professional. ...
  2. Get journalling. ...
  3. Self-love. ...
  4. Take a break. ...
  5. Be nice to yourself. ...
  6. Take a step back. ...
  7. Think about the big picture. ...
  8. Focus on the positive.

Can you get Covid twice? ›

Reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 means a person was infected, recovered, and then later became infected again. After recovering from COVID-19, most individuals will have some protection from repeat infections. However, reinfections do occur after COVID-19.

Is Covid still contagious after 7 days? ›

In high-risk settings, they may be considered infectious from 72 hours before symptoms start. People with mild illness are generally considered recovered after 7 days if they have been asymptomatic or have not developed any new symptoms during this time. But some people may be infectious for up to 10 days.

Can you test negative for Covid after 3 days? ›

One study from researchers at Johns Hopkins suggested that COVID-19 PCR tests conducted 3 to 5 days after a person is exposed that return a negative result shouldn't be relied on alone to gauge infection status, and that in addition, the clinical and epidemiologic situation should be carefully evaluated by health ...

What food is good for COVID? ›

Kiwis, berries, oranges, sweet potatoes, peppers—these all have lots of vitamin C, which support immune health. Put them in a salad or smoothie. If you feel well enough, eat protein. Protein improves healing capacity—after all, it is the building block of all cells, including immune cells.

How do you stop long COVID? ›

Tips for managing long Covid symptoms
  1. Pace yourself - plan what you're going to do and don't over-exert yourself.
  2. Try to break tasks which feel difficult down into smaller chunks, and alternate easier and harder activities.
  3. Consider the best time of the day to do certain activities based on your energy levels.
14 Oct 2022

Does COVID get better after 5 days? ›

If you test positive for COVID-19 and have no symptoms – you may end after day 5. If you test positive for COVID-19 and have symptoms – you may end after day 5 if: You are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) Your symptoms are improving.

What does C mean on Covid test? ›

If a control line (C) is visible (regardless of how faint it is) and a test line (T) is not visible, this means that the result is negative. It is unlikely that you have COVID-19. However, even if your test is negative, continue to observe all hygiene and safety measures.

What type of virus is Covid? ›

COVID-19 is caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. It is part of the coronavirus family, which include common viruses that cause a variety of diseases from head or chest colds to more severe (but more rare) diseases like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

What's the name of new virus? ›

Separately, the Coronavirus Study Group of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses has named the new virus severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2; however, this name has generated controversy in the public health and infectious disease community.

What are Omicron symptoms if vaccinated? ›

What are the symptoms of Omicron? Symptoms of Omicron can be similar to the original COVID-19 virus and other variants, which can include a combination of the following: fever, cough, congestion, runny nose, headache, sore throat, muscle pains/aches and fatigue.

Can you have Covid and test negative? ›

A negative result means it's likely you are not infectious. But a negative test is not a guarantee you do not have COVID-19 and there's still a chance you may be infectious. You should follow advice on how to avoid catching and spreading the virus.

How long test positive Covid Omicron? ›

During the Omicron BA. 1 period, 80.2% of symptomatic persons with COVID-19 returning for repeated testing were RAT–positive after 5 days, and 34.9% were still positive after 10 days, regardless of vaccine status.

How long does Covid last on blankets? ›

A study published in found that at room temperature, COVID-19 was detectable on fabric for up to two days, compared to seven days for plastic and metal. However, when it was exposed to high heat, the virus became inactive within five minutes.

Does Omicron cause long Covid? ›

Scientists have just begun to compare variants head to head, with varying results. While one recent study in The Lancet suggests that omicron is less likely to cause long covid, another found the same rate of neurological problems after omicron and delta infections.

How long does Covid cough last? ›

In the case of COVID-19, this cough could last for as long as six months after the viral infection, especially if the patient contracted Omicron because it is more airway dependent than the original strain.

What does your throat feel like with Covid? ›

Well, it can feel exactly the same as a cold, according to Brian Curtis, MD, vice president of Clinical Specialty Services for OSF HealthCare. That makes it hard to tell the difference between a cold and a mild case of COVID. It's even harder to tell the difference knowing that sore throat is a COVID symptom.

How do you treat Omicron at home? ›

Take proper rest and treat the mild symptoms at home and be in a strict self-quarantine for 7 days to avoid further spread. Currently, there are no specific drugs and medication are available to prevent or treat Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Does Omicron start with a sore throat? ›

Compared to other SARS-CoV-2 variants, the Omicron variant is associated with generally less severe symptoms that may include fatigue, cough, headache, sore throat or a runny nose.

How do personal challenges make a better person? ›

Challenging experiences shapes leaders, survivors and resilient souls who have come from the darkest depths and back. They realize what is most important to them and they stick to that so they can do what really matters to them, and what makes them happy.

Why do we face problems in life? ›

Challenges and problems are important parts of life that give you experiences, make you learn and help you to become wiser and stronger. Problems make us grow and shape us. The biggest problem people have is that they hope for a life without problems.

How do you help someone with Covid? ›

Provide support
  1. Help the person who is sick follow their doctor's instructions for care and medicine. ...
  2. See if over-the-counter medicines for fever help the person feel better.
  3. Make sure the person who is sick drinks a lot of fluids and rests.

How do you deal with stress in a pandemic essay? ›

Many health centers provide or give access to online mental health services.
Interview With a Mental Health Professional
  1. Self-care, not school work, should be your No. 1 priority. ...
  2. Set healthy boundaries with your loved ones. ...
  3. Set boundaries with yourself. ...
  4. Create a happy workspace. ...
  5. Follow a daily routine.

Why does Covid make me cry? ›

Emotional responses

This is normal and could be due to the illness, your time in hospital or the treatment used to help you get better. How you might feel You may find that your mood changes often and you might: feel upset and tearful.

How do we overcome stress? ›

Eat healthy, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and give yourself a break if you feel stressed out.
Take care of your body.
  1. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
  2. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  3. Exercise regularly.
  4. Get plenty of sleep.
  5. Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco, and substance use.

How do you cope with yourself? ›

What can I do to help myself cope?
  1. Making a plan for the next few hours. If you are finding it difficult to focus or are unsure how to manage your day, writing down what you'll do next might help you feel more in control of the situation. ...
  2. Relaxing and calming exercises. ...
  3. Coping with scary thoughts.

How do people cope with life? ›

Self-discipline and accepting yourself can help you feel more confident. Being resilient encompasses many different qualities, but doing so can help you to cope with whatever life hands you a little better. Some things you can do to become a more resilient person include: Learning how to accept other people.

Do dogs get Covid? ›

The virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals during close contact. Pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19. The risk of pets spreading COVID-19 to people is low.

How many times can I catch Covid? ›

Can you get Covid-19 twice? Yes, it is possible to get Covid-19 two, three or even more times. Covid reinfections have become more common because of the Omicron variant, and because immunity from previous infection and immunisation has reduced over time.

How long can you test positive on a rapid test? ›

After a positive test result, you may continue to test positive for some time after. You may continue to test positive on antigen tests for a few weeks after your initial positive. You may continue to test positive on NAATs for up to 90 days.

What happens if I have Covid and get vaccine? ›

Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 because: Research has not yet shown how long you are protected from getting COVID-19 again after you recover from COVID-19. Vaccination helps protect you even if you've already had COVID-19.

How long after testing positive for Covid will I test negative? ›

At least 5 days. If you are: Asymptomatic: Isolate for 5 days after the first positive test.

Are you still contagious after 5 days? ›

People are most contagious with COVID-19 during the first 5 days of their illness. Many people don't have any symptoms during the first 2 to 3 days of their illness. This is why COVID-19 outbreaks are so hard to contain. On average, people are contagious for 5 to 10 days.

When is Covid most contagious? ›

What We Know So Far
  • People who have COVID-19 can transmit it to others two to three days before symptoms develop.
  • People who have COVID-19 are most contagious one to two days before symptoms develop.
  • COVID-19 is still considered highly contagious up to three days after symptoms occur.

Why do I test negative then positive? ›

False Negative COVID-19 Tests

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a patient can falsely test negative if he or she gets tested too soon after exposure—meaning that there is not yet enough of the virus in the patient's body to be detected by a test.

Can you still be Covid positive after 21 days? ›

Some severely immunocompromised persons with COVID-19 may remain infectious beyond 20 days after their symptoms began and require additional SARS-CoV-2 testing and consultation with infectious diseases specialists and infection control experts.

How long does it take to test negative for Covid? ›

Several studies show that most people no longer test positive after five to seven days from their first positive test, but between 10% to 20% of people continue to test positive for 10 to 14 days. But why it takes longer for some people to clear the virus than others is still unknown.

Can U Get Covid back to back? ›

Reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 means a person was infected, recovered, and then later became infected again. After recovering from COVID-19, most individuals will have some protection from repeat infections. However, reinfections do occur after COVID-19.

Can I travel 10 days after a positive Covid test? ›

Try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people

Many people with COVID-19 will no longer be infectious to others after 5 days. If you have a positive COVID-19 test result, try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days after the day you took your test.

Can you have Covid and test negative? ›

A negative result means it's likely you are not infectious. But a negative test is not a guarantee you do not have COVID-19 and there's still a chance you may be infectious. You should follow advice on how to avoid catching and spreading the virus.

What if I test positive but have no symptoms? ›

If you tested positive for COVID-19 but have not had any symptoms: Isolate for at least 5 days after you tested positive for COVID-19. You can leave isolation after 5 full days if you have not developed any symptoms.

What is Covid Omicron incubation period? ›

( 1) A study conducted during high levels of Delta variant transmission reported an incubation period of 4.3 days,(2) and studies performed during high levels of Omicron variant transmission reported a median incubation period of 3–4 days. ( 3,4)

Can you get a false positive Covid test? ›

There's also a chance that a COVID-19 rapid antigen test can produce false-positive results if you don't follow the instructions carefully. False-positive results mean the test results show an infection when actually there isn't one.

Can you get Covid twice within 90 days? ›

Studies suggest that reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 with the same virus variant as the initial infection or reinfection with a different variant are both possible; early reinfection within 90 days of the initial infection can occur.

What a positive Covid test looks like? ›

A POSITIVE result must show BOTH a BLUE line and a PINK line near the BLUE line. Look closely! Even a very faint, pink Test Line and a blue Control Line is a POSITIVE result. The intensity of the lines may vary.

Do you get any immunity after Omicron? ›

Prior infection with Omicron granted stronger protection: it was 79.7% effective at preventing BA. 4 and BA. 5 reinfection and 76.1% effective at preventing symptomatic reinfection.

How long do Covid vaccines last? ›

We don't know how long protection lasts for those who are vaccinated. What we do know is that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people.

Do dogs get Covid? ›

The virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals during close contact. Pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19. The risk of pets spreading COVID-19 to people is low.

Can Covid symptoms get worse? ›

In some people, COVID-19 causes more severe symptoms like high fever, severe cough, and shortness of breath, which often indicates pneumonia. A person may have mild symptoms for about one week, then worsen rapidly. Let your doctor know if your symptoms quickly worsen over a short period of time.

Can I board a plane with a cough? ›

As a reminder, no person should board a flight when they are feeling ill as this could potentially put others at risk. Should symptoms such as a fever, cough or difficulty breathing develop while in flight, the flight crew must be immediately notified.

How long do I quarantine with Covid? ›

ISOLATE AT HOME: Stay away from people and pets for at least 5 full days (day 0 is the first day of symptoms, or if no symptoms, day 0 is the date the test was taken), AND wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask or respirator if you must be around others (whether at home or in public) from start of isolation through day ...


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6. Coping With Stress & Caring for Mental Health During COVID-19
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