What to expect while recovering from COVID-19


by Tresa McNeal, MD, FACP, SFHM

Jul 13, 2020

A COVID-19 diagnosis can seem overwhelming at first. It is normal to have concerns and questions about how to care for yourself or a loved one, especially with this illness being new to our communities.

But rest assured that you are not alone — we can help. 

If you find yourself or a loved one diagnosed with COVID-19 and recovering at home, there are some things you can do to help manage symptoms. The good news is, most people experience only mild symptoms, feel better within a week and can recover fully on their own at home. Some may be sick much longer and require monitoring and/or hospitalization.

While you stay home and recover from COVID-19, it is important to:

  • Take over-the-counter fever reducing medications.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Monitor your symptoms.

COVID-19 home monitoring digital care journey

To help you navigate the uncertainty of a COVID-19 diagnosis, Baylor Scott & White has developed a unique tool for monitoring and assisting patients with COVID-19 from the comfort of home. Conveniently housed within the MyBSWHealth app, this digital tool can help you monitor your symptoms, connect you with virtual care when you have questions and let you know if you should seek care in a clinic or emergency room.

You can register for the COVID-19 digital care journey by downloading the MyBSWHealth app on your phone or other mobile device. From there, you will be prompted to register for the digital care journey following a positive COVID-19 test. 

To learn more, listen to this episode of our With Safe Care podcast featuring David Winter, MD, on what to expect in the digital care journey.

What to expect from COVID-19 recovery

With this virus, you may experience a range of symptoms, including the following:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Although every person’s recovery journey looks different, recovering from COVID-19 can also result in weakness and difficulty getting around. The duration of symptoms can last from a few days to several weeks with the average recovery taking between 5-10 days. 

You will know you are on the mend when you no longer have a fever, your energy levels return and you generally start to feel better.

As you monitor your symptoms, there are several red flag symptoms that you should watch for. If you or a loved one experience any of these symptoms, call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility. Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19:

  • Trouble breathing 
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest 
  • New confusion 
  • Inability to wake or stay awake 
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Worsening of symptoms after having had initial improvement in symptoms

Please note: This list is not an exhaustive list of symptoms. As always, please call your doctor for any symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

There truly is no place like home, especially when you aren’t feeling your best. However, while you recover, it is important take steps to prevent the spread of this highly contagious virus to others, especially if you live with others in the same household.

Home alone and sick?

As you can imagine, being sick and home alone can lead to loneliness, depression or anxiety. It is important to address not only your immediate physical needs, but also to keep a good outlook on spiritual and emotional needs as well for optimal recovery.  

Thankfully, we live in an era where there are many opportunities to stay digitally connected to loved ones and to the world through phone calls, text messaging and social media. 

If you experience loneliness or anxiety, please call a friend to talk about it. You may also choose to access a care manager through the digital care journey app who can then direct you to mental health services, a licensed social worker, your primary care physician or another provider who is equipped to help you cope.

You may also find it helpful to stay connected to clergy or other ministers for spiritual support. Patients often want to talk about their faith journey when faced with illness and uncertainties about how this will affect their own health and that of their loved ones. Chaplains with Baylor Scott & White Health are also available to offer support. You can submit a prayer request here or call the Spiritual Care Support Line at (254) 724-1575.

For more information and resources about COVID-19, visit BSWHealth.com.

About the Author

Tresa McNeal, MD, FACP, SFHM, is an internal medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center — Temple.

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