Experiences withCoronavirus infection
Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms are similar to colds and flu. They include a high temperature, a cough and a loss or change to your smell or taste.
You can help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) by getting vaccinated and taking care when meeting other people, such as meeting them outside.
While you’re staying at home with coronavirus (COVID-19), you can ease mild symptoms by resting, drinking plenty of fluids and taking painkillers.
Treatments for coronavirus (COVID-19) include antibody and antiviral medicines. They are only for people at highest risk of becoming seriously ill.
Symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as colds and flu.
- a high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- shortness of breath
- feeling tired or exhausted
- an aching body
- a headache
- a sore throat
- a blocked or runny nose
- loss of appetite
- feeling sick or being sick
If you have any of these symptoms and you have a high temperature, or you do not feel well enough to go to work or do your normal activities, try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people.
You can go back to your normal activities when you feel better or do not have a high temperature.
To reduce your risk of catching coronavirus (COVID-19) or spreading it to other people:
- get vaccinated
- meet people outside if possible
- open doors and windows to let in fresh air if meeting people inside
- limit the number of people you meet and avoid crowded places
- wear a face covering when it's hard to stay away from other people – particularly indoors or in crowded places
- wash your hands with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day
- avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
Who can get a COVID-19 vaccine
Everyone aged 5 and over can get a 1st and 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
People aged 16 and over, and some children aged 12 to 15, can also get a booster dose.
People aged 12 and over who had a severely weakened immune system when they had their first 2 doses, will be offered a 3rd dose and a booster (4th dose).
People aged 75 and over, people who live in care homes for older people, and people aged 12 and over who have a weakened immune system, will be offered a spring booster.
How well do the COVID-19 vaccines work?
Anyone who gets COVID-19 can become seriously ill or have long-term effects (long COVID). The COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and others.
Research has shown the vaccines help:
- reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
- reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19
- protect against COVID-19 variants
The 1st dose should give you some protection from 3 or 4 weeks after you've had it. But you need 2 doses for stronger and longer-lasting protection.
Most people also need a booster dose to help improve the protection from the first 2 doses of the vaccine.
There is a chance you might still get or spread COVID-19 even if you have a vaccine, so it's important to follow advice about how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19.
There are things you can do to treat mild symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) while you’re staying at home.
If you have a high temperature:
- get lots of rest
- drink plenty of fluids (water is best) to avoid dehydration – drink enough so your pee is light yellow and clear
- take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you feel uncomfortable
If you have a cough:
- avoid lying on your back – lie on your side or sit upright instead
- try having a teaspoon of honey – but do not give honey to babies under 12 months
If you feel breathless:
- keep your room cool by turning the heating down or opening a window – do not use a fan as it may spread the virus
- sit upright in a chair and relax your shoulders
- try breathing slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth, with your lips together like you're gently blowing out a candle
Treatments for coronavirus (COVID-19) are available for people with COVID-19 who are at highest risk of becoming seriously ill.
They can help some people manage their COVID-19 symptoms and reduce their risk of becoming seriously ill.
The treatments available are:
- nirmatrelvir and ritonavir (Paxlovid)
- sotrovimab (Xevudy)
- remdesivir (Veklury)
- molnupiravir (Lagevrio)
Nirmatrelvir, ritonavir, remdesivir and molnupiravir are antiviral medicines.
Sotrovimab is a biological medicine. It is also known as a neutralising monoclonal antibody (nMAb).
If you test positive for COVID-19 and are eligible for COVID-19 treatments, the NHS will contact you about starting treatment.
Treatment needs to be given quickly after your symptoms start to be effective.
Some treatments come as capsules or tablets that you swallow and they can be taken at home.
Other treatments are given to you through a drip in your arm (infusion). You'll usually get them at your local hospital or in a local health centre.
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