Coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery

Coronavirus affects people in different ways. This information gives practical advice to help you recover from coronavirus. You can use it as a self-management guide.

Our understanding of coronavirus and how to recover from it is changing all the time. Recovery is different for everyone.

Some people recover quickly and fully, but others have a difficult or long recovery. This can include physical difficulties and emotional symptoms. 

Work through this information, section by section, and try to use some of the suggestions in your own personal recovery plan. Focus on the symptoms that affect you the most.

After you test positive for coronavirus

Most people get better from coronavirus within 3 weeks. Some people will get worse again after they first start to feel a bit better. This usually happens about 7 to 10 days after the symptoms started.

You might have mild symptoms and feel unwell for a short time before slowly starting to feel better. To help you recover, you should:

  • rest as much as you can
  • drink regular fluids

You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen (unless a healthcare professional says you cannot). Read the instructions carefully and always read the leaflet that comes with the medicine to make sure you are taking the correct dose.

Do not take any other products that contain paracetamol or ibuprofen at the same time.

Coronavirus can leave some people feeling unwell for a long time. This is known as long COVID. The NHS website has more information on long COVID.

If you were in hospital

It is really important that you come back to the hospital if you feel your condition has got worse, especially if you feel more breathless than when you left hospital.

You should avoid using public transport. Coming to the hospital does not always mean you will need to stay in overnight, but we will do checks to make sure you are still safe to recover at home.

When to get help

Try to stay at home and avoid contact with others if you have tested positive for coronavirus or have symptoms of coronavirus.

Contact NHS 111 or a GP if you:

  • feel short of breath, especially when standing up or moving
  • have severe muscle aches, general weakness or tiredness
  • have shakes or shivers
  • have lost your appetite
  • are peeing less than usual
  • cannot take care of yourself (such as washing, dressing or making food)

Go to A&E or call 999 now if:

  • you cannot complete short sentences when at rest due to breathlessness
  • your breathing gets worse suddenly
  • you cough up blood
  • you feel cold and sweaty, with pale or blotchy skin
  • you collapse or faint
  • you have a rash that does not fade when you roll a glass over it
  • you become agitated, confused or very sleepy (drowsy)
  • you are not peeing, or are peeing less than usual
  • your blood oxygen level is less than 92%

These symptoms need urgent medical attention. You should tell the phone operator or healthcare professional you speak to that you might have coronavirus.

Information and support

Peer support for people who have been in the ICU

There are 2 peer support groups in our local area for people who have been admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU). These are friendly and welcoming groups, where former patients and families can meet each other, share their experiences and help make sense of life after critical illness.

  • If were a patient of King’s College Hospital ICU and want to find out more about their group, email [email protected]
  • If you were a patient of St Thomas’s Hospital ICU and want to find out more about their group, email [email protected]

There are also online support groups for coronavirus survivors. We cannot promote any one of these groups individually. However, you can look in your local area and online to see if there is a group that you find helpful.

Finances and other social needs

Coronavirus does not just affect people emotionally and physically. For many people, it affects their ability to work and their finances.

There is a lot of support available through your local council. This includes advice on how to access benefits and support with food and care needs.

Your GP surgery might have a social prescriber. They are a professional who can help you connect to support services. Call your GP to find out more.

You can also contact your local Citizens Advice, who can help you to get in touch with support services. 

Information about recovery from coronavirus

Getting good quality information about coronavirus and your recovery is important. We recommend the following as high-quality sources of information to help you learn more.

Resource number: 5122/VER1
Last reviewed: January 2021
Next review date: December 2023

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Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns about your coronavirus recovery, please speak to a doctor or nurse caring for you. Your discharge letter should have their contact information.

Phone: 020 7188 5082 or 020 7188 5089

Occupational therapy department 
St Thomas' Hospital, phone: 020 7188 4180
Guy's Hospital, phone: 020 7188 4185

Nutrition and dietetics department 
Phone: 020 7188 4128

Speech and language therapy department 
St Thomas' Hospital, phone: 020 7188 6246 
Guy's Hospital, phone: 020 7188 6233

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Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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