Recovering from the coronavirus
If you’ve had the coronavirus, you might be wondering what your recovery will look like and how long it might take. On this page, we talk about the physical symptoms you might experience, as well as issues you might have with your mood, memory and concentration.
- How long does it take to recover from the coronavirus?
- When can I start exercising again?
- Can I catch coronavirus again?
- Long COVID
How long does it take to recover from the coronavirus?
The infectious period varies from person to person. Most people with coronavirus will have a mild illness and will recover in a few days.
Generally, people are considered to be infectious from 48 hours before symptoms start. In high-risk settings, they may be considered infectious from 72 hours before symptoms start.
People with mild illness are generally considered to be recovered after seven days if they have been asymptomatic or have not developed any new symptoms during this time.
Symptoms in children and babies are milder than those in adults, and some infected kids may not show any signs of being unwell.
People at higher risk of serious illness may take weeks to recover. If a person develops long-term health problems caused by coronavirus, symptoms most commonly continue for two to eight weeks after infection.
When can I start exercising again?
Exercise is an important part of recovering from coronavirus. If your symptoms were mild, you can start exercising again if:
- you’ve had 10 days of rest since symptoms started
- you’ve had at least seven days with no symptoms, and
- you’re no longer taking any medications such as paracetamol
Start with 15 minutes of light activity like walking or cycling, and see how you feel. Continue to slowly increase the duration and intensity of your exercise, paying careful attention to your heart rate and breathing rate.
Stop exercising immediately and contact your healthcare provider if you have any:
- chest pain or palpitations. If you experience severe central crushing chest pain lasting more than 10 minutes call 000
- unexpected breathlessness
- signs of blood clotting, such as swollen calves
If you’re recovering from moderate or severe illness, speak with your healthcare provider before returning to exercise.
Can I catch coronavirus again?
While your risk of catching coronavirus again after recovering is lower, reinfection is still possible. The level of protection you have can also depend on factors like your age and immunosuppression.
Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself against reinfection. It’s also important to keep up measures like hand washing, wearing a mask and physical distancing.
The term ‘Long COVID’ is used to describe signs and symptoms that last for a few weeks or months after having a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19.
Most people who test positive for coronavirus recover completely, but some people may develop long COVID.
Long COVID is where symptoms of coronavirus remain, or develop, long after the initial infection – usually after four weeks. Symptoms of long COVID can last for weeks or sometimes months, and include:
- extreme fatigue (tiredness)
- shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain or tightness
- problems with memory and concentration
- changes to taste and smell
- joint and muscle pain.
It is not yet known how long symptoms of long COVID will last. In a large survey of people in the United Kingdom who had coronavirus, nearly 10% of people reported at least one symptom 12 weeks after their initial infection.