Recovery & Self Care During COVID-19

Across the nation, our hospital systems anticipate being overwhelmed with the most critical patients during this COVID-19 pandemic. Hospital systems and provider offices are asking people to stay at home during mild to moderate illness and visit offices or the emergency room only when necessary. So, what should you do to care for yourself while home?

With social isolation guidelines increasing, doctor offices across the nation are transitioning to telehealth visits when possible. While each office routine is different, most providers are setting up time blocks to call patients.

During calls, they review symptoms, concerns, possible testing, and treatment plans. Some are utilizing video conferences, some are just old-fashioned over the phone discussions. Whatever your office can provide, know that you have your provider’s attention to discuss your concerns.

Currently, most COVID-19 symptoms include fevers (above 100 F), dry cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, and headache. Other symptoms that have been reported include nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, weakness, and loss of taste and/or smell.

If you’re concerned about how you are feeling, and start to have symptoms that worry you, please call your provider first. They know your medical history and can review what the next steps will be to take.

Self Isolation

One of the most important steps to stop the spread of illness is to self isolate. While this can be difficult at home with family members, here are some simple steps to help prevent the spread within the home:

  • Remain in bedroom & limit movement throughout the house
  • Wash towels/linens often
  • Use own bathroom if possible
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean high touch surfaces often (knobs/handles, countertop, light switch)
  • Avoid time in the kitchen preparing food; let others do this task

The second step to prevent the spread of illness is to wash your hands often. Use soap with twenty seconds of scrubbing, followed by a good rinse. All family members should do this throughout the day. Also, try and avoid touching your face to decrease the spread of germs.

Keep Track of Symptoms

Set aside a notebook and start to keep a log each day of symptoms. This will come in handy to refer to when discussing concerns with your provider. Monitor & track throughout the day, starting in the morning upon waking, the following:

  • Temperature (before taking fever-reducing medications & two hours after)
  • Symptoms
    • Cough, Shortness of Breath, Runny Nose, Congestion
    • Headache, Muscle Aches, Chills, Sweating
    • Nausea, Diarrhea, Abdominal discomfort
  • Eating & Drinking Intake
  • Medication Dose & Time


During this time at home, do not set lofty goals. This isn’t the time to reorganize the closets, deep clean the house, or start a new project. Focus on your health and rest.

Drink enough fluids and eat small meals throughout the day. Avoid spicy or heavy meals if your stomach is upset.

Continue to move around the house as able because sitting or sleeping for long periods of time can cause deconditioning. Standing up during commercial breaks, walking around periodically each hour can help prevent this.

If you are running a fever, have a headache, or experiencing body aches, consider taking acetaminophen to help relieve these symptoms. Keep track of when you take it, how much you are taking and if you have any improvement. The maximum daily dose of acetaminophen is 4,000mg daily, so track how much you are taking and stay below this dosage.

When to Seek Further Care

Most data is showing that almost 80% of those affected with COVID-19 experience mild to moderate symptoms and recover within 7-14 days. However, as discussed daily in new reports, this virus can cause serious respiratory complications.

Reach out to your provider if your symptoms worsen, especially if you are having shortness of breath or increased/productive cough. If your fever is trending above 102 F without improvement, and this is causing additional issues with eating or drinking, call your provider.

There is a chance your provider can have you come into the office for blood work or X-rays. They might also be able to provide additional medications (such as inhalers, antitussives) that will help while still at home. Only drive yourself if you feel alert enough to do so, and if you have a mask please wear it once out of your home.

If you are unable to drive, or live alone and find yourself having breathing issues, increased weakness and find yourself unable to perform basic tasks such as walking to the bathroom, calling 911 might be your only option.

Notify the 911 operator of your condition and symptoms. If you are able, meet the first responders at the door and wear a mask if you have one. Expect a mask to be given to you once they arrive if you do not already have one on.

Since most hospital systems have instituted a no-visitor policy, pack a small bag of essentials (emergency contact list, phone, charging cord, change of clothes, personal care items, identification cards, medication list, etc.) since you’ll have a difficult time obtaining these once you leave your home.


For many of the 80% of COVID-19 cases, you might not even be aware of your illness and recover without complications or concerns. With testing limitations across the country, there is a chance you will not even know if you were positive during your illness.

There are many viruses present this time of year (rhinovirus, influenza, RSV) so continue to practice good social distancing, hand washing, and avoid touching your face.

If your illness progresses and you’re within the 20% of moderate to severe cases, your recovery could be a long one. You still might not have a positive test to confirm the virus. By most reports, with the onset of symptoms, the virus can last 7-14 days. Until your symptoms improve and your fever has been resolved for 72 hours, you should continue your isolation.

For those patients who are hospitalized, on supplemental oxygen or those requiring ventilator support, recovery will also be a long one. Most hospitalized patients are able to be tested, to help diagnose and treat. It is still very unknown what their recovery will look like.

If you haven’t signed up for our newsletter, click here to receive our Self Care Guide. This infographic is a helpful guide to knowing how to take care of yourself in the event that you do get sick or feel as though there’s a chance that you have the disease. Print it out so you have it nearby or share it with others. 

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Nursing Decoded

Nursing decoded was created to share, educate, and collaborate with EVERYONE (patients, caregivers) and aspiring nurses, students, care technicians, nurses, APN's, and all medical providers. We have over 50 years of experience in medicine and have climbed the ladder through this amazing profession. Medicine and nursing is often complicated, exhilarating, exhausting, challenging, loving, and passionate. As Nurse Practitioners, we want to engage and educate people, patients and providers on how to decode, interpret, and navigate our healthcare world through the viewpoint of nursing. Our goal is to provide a consistent, easily accessible resource that clearly outlines, educates and informs on various topics of healthcare to help them interpret, decode and navigate their healthcare world.

This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. Jennifer

    I can see you have some tips to self-isolate from others in your own home.

  2. Diane Kurzava

    Great information! Thank you for spelling it out so well!

  3. Casandra

    Great detailed list and good reminders.

  4. Lora Rovegna

    Thank you for all the information. We all need to do everything we can to not overload the healthcare system.

  5. jen

    another very useful and direct post. well done

  6. christina

    Thank you so much for this important and timely information.

  7. Lisa Manderino

    Washing hands is so important. They have increased testing sites now with a drive through access in my state I think it really helps.

  8. Jordan

    Thank you so much for this post, as it is definitely needed right now.

  9. Hillari

    This is obviously so important right now, but even past this epidemic. Everyone needs to be reminded now and then of how to properly take care of themselves during sickness. Thank you for writing this!

  10. Tara

    Great, concise information here. Very helpful for this time!

  11. Cindy

    This is really good advice and I am hoping I don’t need it. I hope you and all are healthy!

  12. jody

    Self care is important at this time with the virus. If you do not take care of yourself you will go crazy.

  13. Lora

    Yes, if you are experiencing symptoms self care is very important.

  14. Anna

    So much great information! Thank you so much for sharing this. Lots of people are not completely aware of what should be done when self-guaranteed. And I know you guys are working very hard right now for all of us! And thank you so much for this. I hope you stay safe and healthy throughout this outbreak! Wishing you the best!

  15. Tricia Snow

    I am finding this to be so important. Thanks for the tips!

  16. Pauline

    I think that these are great tips for any time you are sick.

  17. judean

    Thank you for the information. I am not exhibiting any of those things but with my husband, sister, and her husband being deemed essential, I am ultra-careful. I am not sure I could self-isolate in a room alone.

  18. Suzan | It's My Sustainable Life

    Thank you for sharing the tips & suggestions for dealing with this!

  19. Junell DuBois

    Such important information for people to have right now. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Charlotte Boehms

    Great tips. Thank you.

  21. Jason Gowin

    As usual another well informed and helpful post, you are a real service to your readers!

  22. Denise

    This is great information and good advice to know.. glad you shared it.

  23. Kendra Kaiser

    Thank you so much for the detail in this! Such great information for everyone to have on hand.

  24. Sandi

    Thank you for the great info

  25. Stephanie

    More knowledge and information people have around the virus the better! You can never know too much, thank you for sharing!

  26. Debbi

    This post was very helpful! I appreciate how balanced it is, when so much of the information we hear is overly alarming or difficult to understand. I shared this post in my Shareworthy Saturday roundup here: since I know it will be helpful to my readers. Thank you!

    1. Nursing Decoded

      Wonderful! Thank you for sharing the info – knowledge is power!

  27. Kim

    Thanks for the informative post! I especially appreciate the reminder of 4000 mg being the max for Tylenol – that’s something we could all do with remembering, even when not in the midst of a pandemic!

  28. Cindy

    Great info! As stated are creating plans to “reopen” and get people back to work, I wonder what’s next in this saga?

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