How to look after yourself at home if you have coronavirus (COVID-19)

Most people with coronavirus (COVID-19) feel better within a few weeks. You may be able to look after yourself at home while you recover.Information: 

While you’re ill, ask a friend, family member or neighbour to check up on you. Arrange a regular call or talk through a doorway (not face to face) so they can check how you’re doing.

Treating a high temperature

If you have a high temperature, it can help to:

  • 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

Is it safe to take ibuprofen if I have symptoms of COVID-19?

There have been some news reports of anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen, making COVID-19 worse. However, there is no clear evidence that using ibuprofen to treat symptoms such as a high temperature makes COVID-19 worse.

You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat symptoms of COVID-19. Try paracetamol first if you can, as it has fewer side effects than ibuprofen and is the safer choice for most people.

Always follow the instructions that come with your medicine.

Treating a cough

If you have a cough, it’s best to avoid lying on your back. Lie on your side or sit upright instead.

To help ease a cough, try having a teaspoon of honey. But do not give honey to babies under 12 months.

If this does not help, you could contact a pharmacist for advice about cough treatments.

Important: Do not go to a pharmacy

If you or someone you live with has COVID-19 symptoms, you must all stay at home.

Try calling or contacting the pharmacy online instead.

Things to try if you’re feeling breathless

If you’re feeling breathless, it can help to keep your room cool.

Try turning the heating down or opening a window. Do not use a fan as it may spread the virus.

You could also try:

  • breathing slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth, with your lips together like you’re gently blowing out a candle
  • sitting upright in a chair
  • relaxing your shoulders, so you’re not hunched
  • leaning forward slightly – support yourself by putting your hands on your knees or on something stable like a chair

Try not to panic if you’re feeling breathless. This can make it worse.

Get advice from a GP if:

  • you’re feeling gradually more unwell or more breathless
  • you have difficulty breathing when you stand up or move around
  • you feel very weak, achy or tired
  • you’re shaking or shivering
  • you’ve lost your appetite
  • you’re unable to care for yourself – for example, tasks like washing and dressing or making food are too difficult
  • you still feel unwell after 4 weeks – this may be long COVID

Call your local emergency service immediately if:

  • you’re so breathless that you’re unable to say short sentences when resting
  • your breathing has got suddenly worse
  • you cough up blood
  • you feel cold and sweaty, with pale or blotchy skin
  • you have a rash that looks like small bruises or bleeding under the skin and does not fade when you roll a glass over it
  • you collapse or faint
  • you feel agitated, confused or very drowsy
  • you’ve stopped peeing or are peeing much less than usual

Pregnancy advice

If you’re pregnant or have recently given birth, contact your midwife, GP or maternity team if you have any concerns or questions.

Get more advice about pregnancy and COVID-19

If you have a pulse oximeter

A pulse oximeter is a device that clips on your finger to check the level of oxygen in your blood.

Low levels of oxygen in your blood can be a sign you’re getting worse.

A pulse oximeter can help you spot this before you feel breathless or have any other symptoms, so you can get help before it becomes more serious.

You may be asked by your GP or healthcare professional to monitor your oxygen levels if you’re at a high risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.

If you’re using a pulse oximeter at home, make sure it has the CE mark on it which means it meets health and safety standards.

It might help to write down your readings. Keeping a record of regular readings makes it easier to see any changes. It can also help if you need to speak to a healthcare professional.

When to get medical help

Blood oxygen levelWhat to do
95 to 100Stay at home and continue to check your blood oxygen level regularly
93 or 94Check your blood oxygen level again within an hour – if it’s still 93 or 94, call your local emergency service or GP surgery for advice
92 or belowCheck your blood oxygen level again straight away – if it’s still 92 or below, call your local emergency service