What should I do if I have COVID-19?

Find out how to look after yourself if you have COVID-19, including when to call NHS 111, when to call 999, and which treatments you may be able to get.

Recovering at home

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or you’ve tested positive for COVID-19, you should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people.

If you have mild symptoms of coronavirus, these can normally be treated safely at home. It can help to:

  • get a lot of rest
  • drink a lot of water (drink enough so your pee is light yellow or clear)
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you can, to ease symptoms.  

What painkillers can I take if I have asthma?

If you have asthma, speak to your GP, asthma nurse or pharmacist before taking painkillers like ibuprofen, aspirin, or other anti-inflammatory painkillers. These medicines could trigger your asthma symptoms. Your GP, asthma nurse or pharmacist can suggest different painkillers instead, like paracetamol. 

You should also make sure you:

  • have enough of your medicines for your lung condition and continue to take them as prescribed
  • stay in touch with family, friends, and neighbours and ask for help if you need it
  • if you live alone, ask someone to safely check on you regularly if possible. You can talk to them on the phone too.

The NHS has advice on how to manage coronavirus symptoms, like a cough and fever. We have advice for managing breathlessness

Make sure you keep taking your usual medicines

It is very important to keep taking your usual medicines, and not to change any doses. You should also continue to follow your self-management plan. We have an asthma action plan, a COPD self-management plan and a pulmonary fibrosis self-management plan that you can download.

When to call NHS 111 or 999

Call NHS 111 or contact your GP if:

  • you're worried about your COVID-19 symptoms or are not sure what to do
  • the symptoms are getting worse or are not getting better
  • you have other signs of illness, such as a rash, loss of appetite, or you are feeling weak
  • you have a high temperature that lasts five days or more or does not come down with paracetamol. 

It’s really important to get help, especially if you have a lung condition. 

Call 999 if:

  • you can’t say short sentences when you’re resting  
  • your breathing suddenly gets worse
  • you’re having an asthma attack and your reliever inhaler isn’t helping  
  • you’re struggling to breathe
  • you cough up blood
  • you have a rash that does not fade when you roll a glass over it  
  • you collapse, faint, or have a seizure  
  • you get sudden chest pain.  

Using a pulse oximeter

If you live with a lung condition, you may already have a pulse oximeter at home. They are used to measure your blood oxygen levels.

If you have COVID-19 and your risk of getting very ill is higher, your GP or healthcare professional may ask you to check your oxygen levels. The NHS may be able to give you one if you test positive for COVID-19. You can also buy them online or in pharmacies.

Talk to you GP, asthma nurse or specialist about what to do if your blood oxygen levels are low. 

Treatments for people at highest risk

You can access COVID-19 treatments if all the following apply:

  • you’re aged over 12
  • you’re at the highest risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
  • you have symptoms of COVID-19
  • you have tested positive for COVID-19.

Who is high risk?

You are considered high risk if you have certain lung conditions or are having certain treatments. If you think you are high-risk, speak to your GP, asthma nurse or specialist.

Find out more about who is at high risk

Treatments for COVID-19 help people manage their symptoms and reduce the risk of becoming very unwell. Treatments are given as capsules, tablets or a drip in your arm. The NHS has more advice about treatments for COVID-19, including information about accessing treatments and which treatments are available.  

If you’re caring for someone, or you have a carer, it’s a good idea to plan how you will manage if one of you becomes unwell. Carers UK has advice on planning for emergencies

If you’re not better after four weeks

Recovery from coronavirus is different for everyone. Many people feel better in a few days or weeks, but for some people, recovery takes longer. Your symptoms may change over time, or you may start getting new symptoms.

How long it takes to recover isn’t always linked to how bad your symptoms were when you first got COVID-19.

If your COVID-19 symptoms have lasted for more than four weeks, you might have Long COVID.

We have more support for people living with Long COVID. Our My Long COVID Needs tool, could also help you explain your Long COVID symptoms to your GP. 

Get support

Call or WhatsApp our Helpline for support with your condition. Get advice on your medicines, symptoms or travelling with a lung condition, or just call us to say hello.

Did you find this information useful?

We use your comments to improve our information. We cannot reply to comments left on this form. If you have health concerns or need clinical advice, call our helpline on 0300 222 5800 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.

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