Woman wrapped in blanket with tissue on her nose

The coronavirus (COVID-19) sounds scary, and for some people, especially those with underlying conditions, it very well may be. But most people will likely have a mild coronavirus case.

Read More: COVID Vaccine

Here's what you need to treat a mild case at home.

If You Are Sick With Coronavirus

First and foremost, STAY HOME! This applies even if you don't have a confirmed case but have coronavirus symptoms. Learn more about getting a coronavirus test in Maryland.

If a test confirms you are COVID-positive, contact your doctor. There are some outpatient treatments, including IV antibody therapies, available to those at high risk of complications who have mild to moderate symptoms.

Practice social distancing by staying in a room with a dedicated bathroom, if possible, away from other members of your household. If you must share a bathroom, it will have to be cleaned for coronavirus after each use.

Do not have any visitors. If you must be around other people, wear a face mask. Others in your household and you should continue to practice these ways to protect against the coronavirus:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Cough into a tissue that you throw away immediately in a plastic-lined wastebasket.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces every day; some may need it several times a day.
  • Don't share personal items, like dishes, towels or bedding. Make sure your clothing and linens are washed thoroughly.

You should also limit contact with pets while sick. When sick, the CDC recommends keeping your distance from animals until more is known about the virus.

If your symptoms become severe, you should call your doctor or the UMMS Nurse Call Line to see if you need to go to the hospital. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or can't be woken up
  • Lips or face turning blue

If the symptoms are life-threatening, go to the hospital emergency room right away.

Are There Medicines for Coronavirus?

While there are treatments for mild and moderate COVID-19, these are only available via referral from your doctor.

Please don't believe in any products that claim to prevent or treat the coronavirus at home. Additionally, antibiotics only treat bacteria, so they are not effective in treating this virus.

Read More: Coronavirus Facts: Medicines and Treatment

What you can do is treat the symptoms so that you recover as quickly as possible. The body is designed to fight viruses, and for most people, it does successfully on its own.

If you are generally healthy, your body is likely to feel better after a few days and be totally recovered in about a week from the novel coronavirus. However, you may still be contagious for longer, which is why there is a 10-day quarantine from the start of your symptoms.

How Can I Treat Coronavirus Symptoms?

The main symptoms of the novel coronavirus are fever, cough and shortness of breath.

For a Fever

Take a fever reducer. If you choose to or if your fever is very high, you can take a fever reducer. Acetaminophen is what is usually recommended. While ibuprofen is also a fever reducer, there is some concern that it may not be safe to take with the novel coronavirus. More research needs to be done to know for sure.

Stay hydrated. Fevers usually cause sweating, which means loss of water from your body. Drink lots of fluids (preferably water or juice and not soda or high sugar beverages that might make you thirstier). Caffeinated beverages are not recommended.

Rest. Your body needs energy to fight the virus. Just rest up and let your body do its job.

For a Cough

Sip on drinks throughout the day. Not only will this keep your throat moist and comfortable, it will help keep you hydrated.

Drink warm beverages, like tea or broth. These heat up the airways, keep you hydrated and break up any mucus you might have in your throat and upper airway.

Try a teaspoon of honey in hot tea or hot water. A little bit of honey tends to soothe a sore throat. However, children under 1 year old should not try honey.

Breathe in steam. Use a hot shower, humidifier, vaporizer or other means of making steam. It will soothe a sore throat and open your airways, making it easier to breathe.

Gargle salt water. While it is not scientifically proven to help, many people swear that salt water helps their sore throat. There is no harm in trying, and it might help you. Use 1 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water. Make sure you spit it out and disinfect the sink afterward.

Eat a frozen treat. The coldness may help numb the pain and soothe your throat if it is sore from coughing.

Suck on cough drops, lozenges or hard candy. These will keep your mouth and throat moist.

Try cough medicine. If you have a wet cough with lots of mucus, you want to take an expectorant to help get the mucus out. If you have a dry cough, a cough suppressant is what you want. Make sure you choose the right one.

For pain, try acetaminophen. Sometimes a lot of coughing can be painful. A pain reliever can take the edge off.

For Shortness of Breath

Take slow breaths. Slowing things down can help you start breathing again properly.

Try relaxation or meditation techniques. These will help calm the body and get your breathing more regular. Additionally, having shortness of breath may leave you feeling anxious. These relaxation techniques will help fight the anxiety.

If you were previously prescribed an inhaler, you may need to use it. Pay attention to how your chest feels and what symptoms your inhaler was prescribed for. Do not use someone else's inhaler – only use one that is prescribed to you. Make sure you disinfect the mouthpiece after every use.


  • Most people will have mild coronavirus symptoms. There is no cure for this virus, but there are many simple ways to treat the symptoms that will help your body fight the virus.
  • Contact your doctor is you test positive to see if there are any outpatient treatments available to you.
  • Most people will feel better after a few days and feel totally fine within a week. However, they will still be contagious, so they should remain in isolation for 10 days from the time of first symptoms.
  • Treat the fever, cough and shortness of breath with the techniques listed above and you will most likely feel better shortly. Staying hydrated and resting will help the most.
  • Remember to stay away from other people and practice good cleanliness protocol to protect your loved ones from contracting the virus as well.

Updated 12/29/2020

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