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How to treat coronavirus symptoms at home

There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19), but you can often ease the symptoms at home until you recover.

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 coronavirus?

There have been some news reports of anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen, making coronavirus worse.

The Commission on Human Medicines has now confirmed there is no clear evidence that using ibuprofen to treat symptoms such as a high temperature makes coronavirus worse.

You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat symptoms of coronavirus. 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.

Information:

Do not go to a pharmacy in person. If you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms, you should 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.

What to do if your symptoms get worse

It's important to get medical help if your symptoms get worse.

Urgent advice: Use the 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your symptoms get worse and you're not sure what to do

Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

Babies and children

Call 111 if you're worried about a baby or child.

If they seem very unwell, are getting worse, or you think there's something seriously wrong, call 999.

Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.

Get more advice about coronavirus in children.

Immediate action required: Call 999 for an ambulance if you or someone you care for:

  • are struggling to breathe
  • are coughing up blood
  • have blue lips or a blue face
  • feel cold and sweaty, with pale or blotchy skin
  • have a rash that does not fade when you roll a glass over it
  • collapse or faint
  • become confused or very drowsy
  • have stopped peeing or are peeing much less than usual

Tell the operator you might have coronavirus symptoms.

Page last reviewed: 13 May 2020
Next review due: 20 May 2020