How Long Does COVID Recovery Take?
If you suspect you have COVID-19, you may wonder how long the illness will last. While sick, what precautions should you be taking? How long is isolation necessary? When can you return to work and “normal” life?
If you know you have COVID-19 and have symptoms, there are a few factors determining when it’s safe to return to “normal” life. According to the CDC, you can be around others after:
- 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
- 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
- Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving (Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation)
Those who are severely ill with COVID-19 or are immunocompromised may need to stay home longer than 20 days after symptoms first appear.
If you’re experiencing mild symptoms, you should expect the recovery process to be similar to other respiratory viral infections, like the flu. If you’re recovering from a moderate case of COVID-19, you’ll likely experience prolonged fatigue, coughing and shortness of breath. These can often last for several weeks.
If you’re experiencing a severe case of COVID-19, it can take several weeks to months to recover, and you may be in the intensive care unit and possibly even on a ventilator. The illness may become more severe if pneumonia develops or the immune system unleashes a powerful “cytokine storm” to fight the virus. Cytokines are inflammatory proteins released when an infection triggers your immune system. They can kill tissue and damage your organs.
Most people who become sick with COVID-19 will experience mild illness and can recover at home. The symptoms usually last a few days, and most feel better within a week. It’s important to get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and take pain relievers as needed. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations about your care and isolation from loved ones.
If you have COVID-19, you can help prevent the spread of the virus!
- Stay home from work, school and public areas unless you’re getting medical care
- Avoid public transportation
- Stay isolated in one room, away from others
- Avoid shared spaces
- Clean often-touched surfaces in your separate room and bathroom
- Avoid sharing personal household items such as dishes, towels and bedding
- Wear a face mask when near others. Change the face mask daily.
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
Emergency warning signs
It’s important to monitor yourself or your loved one for worsening symptoms. If they appear to be getting worse, call your doctor. Call 911 if the sick person can’t be woken up or you notice any emergency signs, including:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent chest pain or pressure
- New confusion
- Bluish lips or face
- Inability to stay awake