Health article

Mild to moderate COVID-19 – discharge: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

You tested positive for COVID-19 at a clinic and are well enough to recover at home. As you recover, you must isolate at home. Home isolation keeps people who are infected with COVID-19 away from other people who are not infected with the virus. You should stay in home isolation until it is safe to be around others.


While in home isolation, you should separate yourself and stay away from other people to help prevent spreading COVID-19.

  • As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from others in your home. Use a separate bathroom if you can. Do not leave your home except to get medical care.
  • Have food brought to you. Try not to leave the room except to use the bathroom.
  • Use a face mask when you see your health care provider and anytime other people are in the same room with you.
  • Wash your hands many times a day with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not easily available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers may be helpful.
  • Do not share personal items such as cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding. Wash anything you have used in soap and water.


Talk with your health care provider about when it is safe to end home isolation. When it is safe depends upon your specific situation. These are the general recommendations from the CDC for when to be around other people. The CDC guidelines are updated frequently:

If you are tested for COVID-19 after your diagnosis or after having symptoms of the illness, it is safe to be around others if ALL of the following are true:

  • It has been at least 10 days since your symptoms first appeared.
  • You have gone at least 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
  • Your symptoms have improved, including cough, fever, and shortness of breath. (You may end home isolation even if you continue to have symptoms such as loss of taste and smell, which may linger for weeks or months.)


It’s important to get proper nutrition, stay active as much as you can, and take steps to relieve stress and anxiety as you recover at home.

Managing COVID-19 symptoms

While recovering at home, it’s important to keep track of your symptoms and stay in touch with your doctor. You may receive instructions on how to check and report your symptoms. Follow your provider’s instructions and take medicines as prescribed. If you have severe symptoms, call 911 or the local emergency number.

To help manage symptoms of COVID-19, try the following tips.

  • Rest and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) help reduce fever. Sometimes, health care providers advise you to use both types of medicine. Take the recommended amount to reduce fever. DO NOT use ibuprofen in children 6 months or younger.
  • Aspirin works well to treat fever in adults. DO NOT give aspirin to a child (under age 18 years) unless your child’s provider tells you to.
  • A lukewarm bath or sponge bath may help cool a fever. Keep taking medicine — otherwise your temperature might go back up.
  • For a sore throat, gargle several times a day with warm salt water (1/2 tsp or 3 grams of salt in 1 cup or 240 milliliters of water). Drink warm liquids such as tea, or lemon tea with honey. Suck on hard candies or throat lozenges.
  • Use a vaporizer or take a steamy shower to increase moisture in the air, reduce nasal congestion, and help soothe a dry throat and cough.
  • Saline spray can also help reduce nasal congestion.
  • To help relieve diarrhea, drink 8 to 10 glasses of clear liquids, such as water, diluted fruit juices, and clear soups to make up for fluid loss. Avoid dairy products, fried foods, caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated drinks.
  • If you have nausea, eat small meals with bland foods. Avoid foods with strong smells. Try to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water or clear fluids every day to stay hydrated.
  • Do not smoke, and stay away from secondhand smoke.


COVID-19 symptoms such as loss of taste and smell, nausea, or tiredness can make it hard to want to eat. But eating a healthy diet is important for your recovery. These suggestions may help:

  • Try to eat healthy foods you enjoy most of the time. Eat anytime you feel like eating, not just at mealtime.
  • Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and protein foods. Include a protein food with every meal (tofu, beans, legumes, cheese, fish, poultry, or lean meat)
  • Try adding herbs, spices, onion, garlic, ginger, hot sauce or spice, mustard, vinegar, pickles, and other strong flavors to help increase enjoyment.
  • Try foods with different textures (soft or crunchy) and temperatures (cool or warm) to see what is more appealing.
  • Eat smaller meals more often throughout the day.
  • Don’t fill up on liquids before or during your meals.

Physical Activity

Even though you don’t have a lot of energy, it’s important to try to move your body a little bit every day. This will help you regain your strength.

  • Deep breathing exercises may increase the amount of oxygen in your lungs and help open up airways. Ask your provider to show you.
  • Simple stretching exercises keep your body from getting stiff. Try to sit upright as much as you can during the day.
  • Try walking around your home for short periods every day. Try to do 5 minutes, 5 times a day. Slowly build up every week.

Mental Health

Staying away from your family and friends in isolation can be difficult. You may feel sad, unhappy, lonely, and helpless.

Try these tips to stay positive:

  • Use phone calls, video calls, and social media to keep in touch with your family and friends.
  • Watch your favorite shows, movies, or motivational videos.
  • Try using relaxation techniques, gentle yoga, or meditation to help relieve stress.

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