Self-care advice

If you have coronavirus (COVID-19), you may be able to look after yourself at home. There are a few things you can do to manage mild symptoms. Most people feel better within a few weeks.

You must self-isolate for 10 days if you've tested positive for coronavirus. Do not go to your GP, pharmacy or hospital. If you have coronavirus symptoms but have not been tested yet, book a test.

Treating a coronavirus fever at home

It’s safe to treat most fevers at home but you may be at risk of becoming dehydrated.

If you've had a vaccine in the last 48 hours, read our advice on fever following vaccination.

Do

  • wear loose, comfortable clothing – don’t try to make yourself too cold
  • drink more fluids – you should be peeing (approximately) every 6 hours
  • check your pee colour – a pale yellow colour means you’re unlikely to be dehydrated, while darker pee means you should drink more water
  • take paracetamol if you have a temperature – always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • keep your room at a comfortable temperature
  • make sure fresh air is circulating

Urgent advice: Phone 111 if:

  • you’re severely thirsty and peeing less
  • you feel lightheaded or weak
  • you have new, severe muscle cramps

You should also phone 111 if your symptoms worsen or if you notice new symptoms.

Treating a coronavirus cough at home

It’s also safe to treat most coughs at home. There are some things you can do to help ease and relieve a coronavirus cough.

Do

  • take pain medication such as paracetamol – always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • drink enough fluids to keep you hydrated – this is particularly important if you’ve just woken up
  • drink warm drinks as they have a soothing effect

Fluids that keep you hydrated include water, diluted squash and fruit juice.

To reduce the spread to others you should:

  • cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • wash your hands regularly
  • put tissues in the bin
  • sneeze into the crook of your elbow if you don’t have a tissue

Urgent advice: Phone 111 if:

  • you’re coughing up blood
  • you have chest pain
  • you have shortness of breath that’s new or worsening

Get an isolation note for work

You can send an isolation note to your employer as proof you need to stay off work because of coronavirus.

You don’t need to get a note (sick line) from a GP.

Get an isolation note

Hospital discharge information

If you've been treated in hospital for coronavirus, you may be discharged to recover at home. There'll be a clinical assessment to make sure this is right for you. You must self-isolate if it's less than 10 days since your symptoms started.

Adults managing symptoms at home

You should follow our self-care advice to manage any symptoms you may still have at home.

What if I get worse when I get home?

Most people with coronavirus will gradually get better at home and make a full recovery. However, if your symptoms get worse at home you should phone 111 and tell them you have coronavirus. You should do this particularly if:

  • breathlessness develops or worsens
  • you have severe thirst and are peeing less than normal
  • you feel lightheaded or become very weak
  • you develop new or severe muscle cramps
  • you have symptoms that you can no longer manage at home

If you have a cough, this can last longer than 7 days. If you have no other symptoms you don’t need to seek extra help.

Immediate action required: Phone 999 if you have a medical emergency, particularly if:

  • you’re short of breath whilst resting
  • your lips and tongue turn blue
  • your skin is ‘mottled’ or discoloured

Postnatal managing symptoms at home

If you’ve just had a baby but also have coronavirus and have been admitted to hospital, you should follow the advice above.

If there’s a medical emergency and you need to phone 111 or 999, tell the call handler that you’ve just had a baby.

It’s very unlikely that you will have passed coronavirus on to your child.

Read our pregnancy and newborn babies advice for more information.

Managing your child’s symptoms at home

If your child has been in hospital with symptoms of coronavirus, you should follow our self-care advice to manage any symptoms your child may still have at home.

What if my child’s symptoms get worse at home?

Most children and babies with coronavirus will gradually get better at home and make a full recovery. However, if you’re worried about your child or baby you should phone 111 and tell them your child or baby has coronavirus. You should do this particularly if:

  • they start breathing very fast
  • they’re very thirsty and peeing less than normal
  • they’re not feeding or eating (children younger than 5)
  • they keep vomiting
  • they start to get a very high temperature again
  • their symptoms can no longer be managed at home

If your child or baby has a cough, this can last longer than 7 days. If they have no other symptoms you don’t need to seek extra help.

If they’re very unwell and seem to be getting worse or you think there’s something seriously wrong, phone 999.

Immediate action required: Phone 999 if:

  • they’re short of breath whilst resting
  • their lips and tongue turn blue
  • their skin is ‘mottled’, pale or discoloured
  • they have a fit or convulsion
  • they become lethargic or difficult to wake up
  • they’re abnormally cold to touch

Do not delay in getting help if you’re worried and always trust your instincts.

Informing your GP or other care providers

The hospital or assessment centre will update your GP that you or your child have been assessed for or admitted to hospital for coronavirus. You don’t need to phone your GP to let them know.

You should phone other care providers such as your midwife, your child’s nursery or other care providers to let them know.