Home self-care for COVID-19

How to care for yourself or a loved one.

February 5, 2021


Most people who get COVID-19 will have a mild case that may feel like a cold. Most people will also be able to care for themselves at home. 

In general, follow these three basic rules: 

  • Stay warm and rest as much as possible. If you feel like resting, you should. 
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Food is not as important; your appetite will return when you’re well. 
  • For fever, take normal doses of Tylenol® or Motrin® as indicated on the bottle. 

If you have any of the symptoms listed below, follow the recommendations for taking care of yourself. 


Humid air and drinking lots of fluids helps moisten and loosen up sticky mucus. Non-prescription drugs that keep you from coughing, such as Delysm, Robitussin and Mucinex, can be helpful. If you use an inhaler, you may need to use it more often. 

Sore throat

Gargle with warm salt water (a half-teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water). Apply cold packs to the outside of your throat to ease painful swallowing, and drink lots of fluids. Humidify the air by using a vaporizer, pans of evaporating water or a steaming tub or shower.

High temperature

Be sure to drink lots of fluids. Medication like Tylenol or Motrin can help control a fever. An ongoing temperature of 103–104° F is a danger sign. 

Upset stomach and/or diarrhea

Eat and drink only clear liquids, soups or juices as you can handle them. Fluids are a critical way to avoid getting dehydrated, which is a dangerous loss of fluid in the body. 

Call your doctor’s office if your symptoms get worse, especially if you notice any of these: 

  • Temperature of more than 103–104° F when taking medication for fever 
  • Bloody discharge or increasing chest pain 
  • Increasing shortness of breath 
  • Stiff neck that keeps you from bending your neck and placing your chin on your chest
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The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.