Doctors Explain How Long You Can Expect to Experience Symptoms of COVID-19

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There are hundreds of thousands of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US, and realistically, there are many more Americans experiencing mild-to-moderate symptoms who don’t meet the threshold for testing. If you’re one of them, you may be wondering how long it’ll take for you to feel better. The answer isn’t entirely clear – it depends on your immune system and the severity of your illness – but here’s a rough breakdown of what to expect, according to experts.

Best Case Scenario: No Time at All

“Many cases come and go without any symptoms, so no recovery is needed,” David Cutler, MD, a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, told POPSUGAR. However, you could still be contagious – so, if you believe you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, you should quarantine for at least 14 days.

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Most Common: About 2 Weeks

“If your case is mild, you may have very limited symptoms and feel back to normal within a week or less,” explained Spencer Blackman, MD, a primary care physician at One Medical. “More commonly, you may feel classic symptoms for one to two weeks or longer – sometimes with better and worse days – until you truly start to improve.” Either way, you should be able to recover at home.

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Most Severe: Several Weeks or More

“About 20 percent of cases are severe, and these people need to be hospitalized,” Dr. Cutler said. For those who recover, it can take quite a while to feel healthy again.

Dr. Blackman put recovery at roughly three to six weeks for patients who require hospitalization, and “even when you are discharged home, you may feel very weak and get short of breath with even mild exertion,” he explained. “For those who require intensive care and intubation (machine-assisted breathing), weeks to months of rehabilitation may be needed to regain lost weight, strength, and endurance.”

In short, COVID-19 is a very serious disease that can be dangerous for the most vulnerable among us. If you have reason to believe you have it, isolate yourself from your family or roommates and call your doctor to get specific instructions on how to manage things moving forward.

POPSUGAR aims to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since publication. For the latest information on COVID-19, please check out resources from the WHO, CDC, and local public health departments.

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