COVID-19 is an upper respiratory infection that mainly affects the lungs, and causes a variety of different symptoms, which may include dry cough, sore throat, and headache. However, it may also cause other symptoms, including, but not limited to:1
- Achy muscles and joints
For more common symptoms, see the article “Top 10 COVID Symptoms.”
You may be wondering, how long do COVID-19 symptoms last? In mild cases, symptoms typically clear up in one to two weeks, but in more severe cases they can last up to six weeks or longer.2 To help you feel better while recovering, here are some things to do at home for COVID-19 symptom relief.
At-Home COVID Care
Typically, with viral infections like COVID-19, they have to run their course. However, there are some easy ways to help relieve symptoms. If you have underlying health conditions that may make a COVID infection worse, your doctor may also recommend you take extra steps to stay safe at home. You should always talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your symptoms or treatment options.
Two devices to have at home include a thermometer and a pulse oximeter. The thermometer will help you track temperatures if you’re running a fever. If your fever is 103° F or higher, call your doctor.3 A pulse oximeter measures your heart rate (pulse) and blood oxygen level. COVID-19 can infect the lungs, which may make it difficult to breathe and take in enough oxygen. Therefore, your doctor may recommend you monitor your blood oxygen levels at home, especially if you are at risk for severe infection.4
It’s also important to stay hydrated when sick. Fevers cause sweating, which may lead to dehydration. Drinking fluids can also keep your throat moistened, helping treat sore throat and cough. Try to drink water or juice over coffee and sugary drinks, as these help you hydrate more. For sore throats, warm beverages like broth or tea, or frozen treats like popsicles can help.4
If you’re short of breath and feel a tightness in your chest, try relaxing and taking slow breaths. Meditation and relaxation techniques can help ease any anxiety you may have around being sick. If you were previously given an inhaler by your doctor, you may use it if needed.4
Finally, it’s a good idea to get plenty of rest when home sick. This gives your body the energy it needs to fight the virus. Sleep is an important part of keeping your immune system healthy and functioning. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try taking a warm bath before bed to relax, and use a humidifier in your room to help with coughing and congestion. Propping your head up with an extra pillow can also help you breathe easier.5
Over-the-Counter Options for COVID Symptoms
While over-the-counter treatments for COVID-19 symptoms don’t directly treat the cause, they can help with symptom management. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends pain relievers and fever reducers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen for COVID-19 headache relief, along with treating fever and mild body aches and pains.6
To help relieve sore throat and cough, you can use cough medicine, cough drops, and lozenges.4 If you’re congested or have a runny nose, cold medicine may also help.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms. March 22, 2022. Accessed from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
2. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Coronavirus Diagnosis: What Should I Expect? January 24, 2022. Accessed from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/diagnosed-with-covid-19-what-to-expect
3. Mayo Clinic. Fever. May 7, 2022. Accessed from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fever/symptoms-causes/syc-20352759
4. University of Maryland Medical System. Treating COVID at Home. April 14, 2022. Accessed from: https://www.umms.org/coronavirus/diagnosis-symptoms/treat-covid-at-home
5. American Sleep Association. COVID-19 and Sleep. Accessed from: https://www.sleepassociation.org/about-sleep/covid-19-and-sleep/
6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 Treatments and Medications. April 29, 2022. Accessed from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/treatments-for-severe-illness.html
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