What Is the Recovery Time for the Coronavirus?

Steve GoodlessLast Updated Aug 12, 2020 5:43:30 PM ET
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In December 2019, a new (novel) version of coronavirus appeared in the province of Wuhan, China. By March 2020, this virus, named COVID-19, had spread globally to many other nations throughout the world, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to classify the spread as a pandemic. No vaccine has been developed for COVID-19, and researchers are working to find an effective treatment for the symptoms, which can cause pneumonia in both lungs.

The novel coronavirus only causes mild symptoms in some patients, but it leads to much more severe symptoms in others. That means recovery times can vary a great deal, depending on the patient and the severity of the disease. Here’s a look at some incubation and recovery information for COVID-19 as well as tips on how to protect yourself, how to recognize the various symptoms and what to do if you feel sick.

What Are the Symptoms of Coronavirus?

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The most common symptoms of coronavirus include a dry cough and fever, which can be accompanied by shortness of breath. However, many patients have also reported other symptoms, such as a loss of the sense of smell or taste, runny nose, gastrointestinal disturbances like diarrhea and sore throat. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to contact your doctor right away.

However, keep in mind that your doctor will likely want to discuss your symptoms with you and ask more questions via a telehealth appointment. If your physician deems it necessary, he or she can direct you where to go to get a test for COVID-19. If you experience trouble breathing at any time, it’s important to go to an emergency medical facility right away, as this particular symptom requires prompt medical attention.

How Long Does It Take for Symptoms to Appear After Exposure to COVID-19?

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Because coronaviruses are transmitted via respiratory droplets or by touching something that an infected person has touched, you may not know right away that you were exposed to coronavirus. The incubation period ― how long it takes for symptoms to show up after exposure ― for COVID-19 is anywhere from two to 14 days. A new study indicates that the average (median) time for symptoms to appear is about five days after exposure.

If you believe you have been exposed, you should remain in quarantine ― meaning have no exposure at all to anyone! ― for 14 days to minimize the risk of infecting others. If you live with others, you should quarantine in a separate part of your home, and any other areas you entered should be thoroughly sanitized.

What Is the Recovery Time for COVID-19?

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Based on information taken from preliminary data ― keeping in mind that every patient is different ― patients completely recover from mild cases of coronavirus in about two weeks. The estimated recovery time for more severe or life-threatening cases extends to three to six weeks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines recovery from coronavirus as an absence of fever without the aid of fever-reducing medications for three full days as well as improvements in other symptoms, such as cough and shortness of breath, for up to a week. Two negative swab tests are needed before a patient can return to work or leave a quarantine.

It’s important to note that many patients who seem to have recovered have continued to test positive well after their symptoms have subsided. Researchers are unsure if this is due to antibodies, a second infection or a continued mild infection.

How Can I Prevent COVID-19 Infection?

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To prevent infection from coronavirus, it’s necessary to take precautions, such as practicing social distancing measures, frequent hand washing and other safety precautions. The CDC recommends that people stay 6 feet or more apart from each other when out in public and that people only leave their houses for essential needs, such as grocery shopping or emergencies.

When grocery shopping, it’s wise to thoroughly clean items you take home with you and sanitize your hands while at the store. If you wear gloves, be sure to remove and dispose of them as soon as you leave the store to avoid cross-contamination of your keys, vehicle, etc.

Coronaviruses can live on surfaces, depending on the material, from anywhere from a few hours to a few days. As soon as you return home, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or more using proper handwashing techniques.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth when you’re out and also when you’re at home. If you have touched an infected object and you inadvertently touch your eyes, nose or mouth, the infection has a much better chance of making its way into your system.