How do you treat coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Dr Babak Ashrafi

Medically reviewed by

Dr Babak Ashrafi

Last reviewed: 16 Apr 2020

There is no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19). Most people with the virus will be able to manage their symptoms at home.

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How can I treat coronavirus at home?

You cannot cure a COVID-19 infection, but you can speed up your recovery and make your symptoms easier to manage.

General tips for treating COVID-19:

  • Rest and sleep as much as you can
  • Drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated
  • Take light exercise if you feel well enough

Tips for treating a coronavirus fever:

  • Use a wet cloth to cool your forehead
  • Take paracetamol to lower your temperature if you have a fever
  • Avoid cold baths or showers because this reduces your blood flow

Tips for treating a dry coronavirus cough:

  • Drink hot water with honey and lemon
  • Take cough syrup, medicine or lozenges

Tips you can try to improve shortness of breath caused by the coronavirus:

  • Breathing through pursed lips (hold your lips like you’re whistling)
  • Sitting forward, ideally leaning on a surface like a table
  • Standing up with your back supported, for example leaning against a wall
  • Standing and leaning on a surface
  • Lying down on your back or side with pillows supporting your head and knees
  • Using a fan – cool air can improve shortness of breath
  • Drinking small amounts of coffee, which can relax your airways

If you’re not sure about how to treat a coronavirus infection, or you’ve got any questions or concerns, you can message our doctor team any time through your patient account.

If you do not have an account, registering with ZAVA is quick, easy, and free. Our doctors usually respond within 5 working hours, but at busier times you should get a response within 24 hours.

Learn more about coronavirus testing and how to get tested

Find out if you have COVID-19 antibodies
Order an antibody test now

When do I need to seek medical help?

If your symptoms get worse, use the NHS 111 symptom checker which will tell you what to do next.

If you have severe difficulty breathing, you should call 999.

This is when you’re:

  • gasping for breath
  • not able to get words out
  • choking
  • your lips are turning blue

ZAVA cannot provide emergency medical help.

Caring for someone with coronavirus (COVID-19)

If someone you live with has coronavirus, you can help them manage their symptoms, but you should still keep your distance as much as possible and practise good hygiene to try to avoid getting infected.

When caring for someone you live with:

  • wash your hands often and try to avoid touching your face
  • try to keep 2m (6ft) away from those who have coronavirus symptoms
  • do not share food, drinks, plates, and knives and forks
  • do not share towels, including hand towels and tea towels
  • do not share clothes or blankets
  • sleep alone where possible
Questions about coronavirus? Get free advice from our doctors
Message our doctors

How are severe cases of COVID-19 treated?

Treatment for severe cases of COVID-19 includes:

  • oxygen therapy and fluid replacement
  • being on a ventilator if oxygen therapy is not enough
  • antimicrobial treatment, when there are other infections
  • medication to help avoid or manage septic shock
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Medically reviewed by:
Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Expansion

Babak studied medicine at King’s College London and graduated in 2003, having also gained a bachelor’s degree in Physiology during his time there. He completed his general practice (GP) training in East London, where he worked for a number of years as a partner at a large inner-city GP practice. He completed the Royal College of GPs membership exam in 2007.

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Last reviewed: 16 Apr 2020




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