Covid: How to look after yourself at home

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  • Coronavirus pandemic

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So you've caught Covid. What now?

Obviously, stay away from other people to avoid giving it to them.

In terms of your own wellbeing, here's what experts recommend.

Tell family and friends

Don't suffer in silence. Let people know that you have Covid. They might be able to help with dropping off some food to your door and give you a call to check how you are doing.

The NHS also has volunteers to help people who are self-isolating at home with things like shopping and collecting medicines.

  • How do I get volunteer support?
  • What are the self-isolation rules?

Rest up

Even with newer variants of the virus like Omicron and Delta, many people will have mild or no symptoms and will be able to safely ride out the infection at home.

The main symptoms, says the NHS, are still:

  • a new, continuous cough
  • a fever/high temperature
  • loss of or change to smell or taste

But researchers who have been gathering feedback from hundreds of thousands of people about their experiences with Covid suggests the top five symptoms are similar to a cold:

  • runny nose
  • headache
  • fatigue (either mild or severe)
  • sneezing
  • sore throat

If you feel grotty, there are things you can do that may help.

Get lots of rest, drink plenty of water and take paracetamol or ibuprofen to help you feel more comfortable.

For a cough, try lying on your side or sitting upright rather than on your back.

Sitting up, rather than lying down, is also good if you are a bit breathless.

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
  • relaxing your shoulders, so you're not hunched, and leaning forward slightly with your hands on your knees
  • turning down the heating a bit and letting in some fresh air

Tips for breathlessness

Some people may already have (or want to buy) a gadget called a pulse oximeter that can check the level of oxygen in the blood.

It clips on to your finger and can be a useful measurement to know, a bit like keeping a check on your temperature with a thermometer.

  • How to use a pulse oximeter
  • Pulse oxygen monitors work less well on darker skin, experts say

Low levels of oxygen in your blood can be a sign you're getting worse.

A reading of 95 or above is normal. If it drops to 93 or 94 and stays like that an hour later, call 111 or your GP for advice. If it is 92 or below (on a device that is certified with a CE mark and you are using as per the instructions that come with it), go to A&E or call 999.

Know when to get help

If you want some extra advice, you could try calling or contacting a pharmacy online. The NHS website also has lots of information about Covid.

Some people with Covid will need medical care, which might include staying in hospital.

The NHS is also offering some high risk patients a pill they can take at home to help cut the risk of their infection becoming more serious.

Get advice from NHS 111 or your GP if:

  • you're feeling gradually more unwell or more breathless
  • you have difficulty breathing when you stand up or move around
  • you feel very weak, achy or tired
  • you're shaking or shivering
  • you've lost your appetite
  • you're unable to care for yourself – for example, tasks like washing and dressing or making food are too difficult
  • you still feel unwell after four weeks – this may be long Covid

Go to A&E immediately or call 999 if:

  • you're so breathless that you're unable to say short sentences when resting
  • your breathing has got suddenly worse
  • you cough up blood
  • you feel cold and sweaty, with pale or blotchy skin
  • you have a rash that looks like small bruises or bleeding under the skin and does not fade when you roll a glass over it
  • you collapse or faint
  • you feel agitated, confused or very drowsy
  • you've stopped peeing or are peeing much less than usual

If you are worried about a baby or child, do not delay getting help. If they seem very unwell, are getting worse, or you think there's something seriously wrong, call 999.

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