COVID-19 Treatment and Recovery

Learn about COVID-19 medications, supportive care and recovering from illness.

Treating COVID-19

If you or a loved one are sick with COVID-19, any treatments used should be prescribed by your healthcare provider.

The FDA has granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Evusheld, a monoclonal antibody PrEP treatment, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Given as a series of shots, it is intended for people who have not developed a response to the vaccine due to their compromised immune system. It is recommended that you receive all recommended COVID-19 vaccinations, and Evusheld may be prescribed as an additional layer of protection against severe illness.

This treatment may be available to adults and children 12 years or older who weight at least 88 pounds, do not have a current infection and have not been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

You are at increased risk for serious illness from COVID-19 if you are immunocompromised. Speak with your healthcare provider to determine if Evusheld might be a proactive treatment option for you. Learn more steps you can take to help prevent COVID-19.

Many individuals, including those who live with chronic lung disease, are at  high risk for severe illness if they get sick with COVID-19. Severe symptoms that may require hospitalization typically occur about one week after initial symptoms begin. The FDA has issued emergency use authorization (EUAs) for certain medications that your healthcare provider may prescribe with a goal of keeping you from developing severe symptoms. Depending on your situation, you may receive one of these treatments:

  • Antiviral medicationscan help your immune system fight of the coronavirus infection by stopping the virus from multiplying in your body, with a goal of preventing you from becoming more seriously ill. There is a narrow window, typically five days from when you begin feeling ill, to begin this treatment so speak with your healthcare provider as soon as possible if you test positive for COVID-19.
    • Preferred therapies include PAXLOVID (nirmatrelvir/ritonavir) or VEKLURY (remdesivir) 
    • Alternative therapies include Lagevrio (molnupiravir)
  • Monoclonal antibody treatment, which can help your immune system fight off the virus by stopping the virus from spreading, so you are less likely to get severely ill. It is important to speak with your doctor as soon as possible once you are confirmed to have COVID-19 to determine if this is an appropriate treatment for you to have since it should be taken as soon as possible, and within 7 days of when you started feeling ill.
    • Alternative therapies include bebtelovimab

Treatments for COVID-19 are constantly evolving. The National Institutes of Health regularly updates current treatment guidelines to help guide healthcare providers in treating their patients who test positive for COVID-19.

You could be hospitalized for COVID-19 for several reasons including difficulty breathing, and your symptoms will determine your care once you arrive. Hospital staff will monitor your vital signs to make sure you are getting enough oxygen and may administer fluids so you stay hydrated. If your oxygen levels are low, you may be administered supplemental oxygen.

If your symptoms worsen, you may be transferred to an intensive care unit (ICU) for closer monitoring.

There is currently one drug that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat COVID-19

  • Remdesivir (Veklury), an antiviral which has been shown to shorten the recovery time needed in some hospitalized patients 

The FDA has also issued emergency use authorization (EUAs) for certain medications that your healthcare provider may prescribe as treatment of COVID-19. Depending on your situation, you may receive:

  • Dexamethasone, a corticosteroid used to prevent or reduce inflammation in hospitalized patients with severe illness who need supplemental oxygen
  • Tocilizumab, baricitinib or sarlilumab biological therapy used to reduce inflammation in hospitalized patients with severe illness requiring oxygen delivery through a high-flow device, invasive mechanical ventilation or ECMO, if used in addition to dexamethasone
  • Monitor your symptoms and report any changes to your healthcare provider via phone.
  • Severe illness, including shortness of breath, typically occurs about one week after initial symptoms occur and requires prompt emergency care.
  • Stay home from work, school and other public places. Have groceries delivered or ask a family member or friend to pick up needed essentials for you and drop at your door.
  • Separate yourself from others. This is known as home isolation. As much as possible, stay away from other people in your home by dedicating a sick room and use a separate bathroom, if available.
  • If you are high-risk for severe COVID-19 illness, review the Treatment Options If Your Are High Risk section above.
  • Get plenty of rest and stay hydrated.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue that you throw away immediately after.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid sharing personal items with other people in your household, like dishes, towels, and bedding.
  • Clean all surfaces that are touched often, like counters, tabletops, and doorknobs. Use household cleaning sprays or wipes according to the label instructions.
1
2
3
4
5

Are Monoclonal Antibodies a Treatment Option for Me?

COVID-19 symptoms can range from mild to severe. Americans continue to fall ill with the disease and many recommended treatments are not yet widely understood. Take this quiz to help determine if it makes sense to consider a specific outpatient treatment for COVID-19.

Are you 12 years of age or older?

Please confirm age.

Treatment options vary by age.

Are you at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19?

Please indicate high risk.

Some examples of individuals at high-risk for severe disease include if you are over the age of 65 years, or if you have one of the following conditions: chronic lung, heart or kidney disease, are pregnant, are immunocompromised or are overweight or obese.

Have you tested positive for COVID-19?

Please indicate case of positive test result.

If you have symptoms of respiratory illness, it is important to get tested so you and your healthcare provider can determine the best course of action.

Are you currently hospitalized for COVID-19?

Please indicate hospitalization due to COVID-19.

There are different recommended treatments depending on if you have been hospitalized or are treating your symptoms at home.

Has it been 10 days or less since you began having symptoms of COVID-19?

Please indicate applicable timing of symptoms.

Specific treatment may be available if given within 10 days of symptom onset.

Results

Monoclonal antibodies are likely a treatment option for you. Speak with your healthcare provider promptly to determine if monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 can help prevent severe illness. It is important to start treatment as soon as possible.
  • You are 12 years of age or older.
  • You are at high risk for severe illness. 
  • You will need a positive COVID-19 viral test to seek this treatment.
  • You have not been hospitalized for COVID-19.
  • You tested positive for COVID-19 and began having symptoms within the past 10 days.
Monoclonal antibodies likely aren't a treatment option for you. Regardless, you should speak with your healthcare provider about your symptoms and treatment options.
  • Monoclonal antibodies are not recommended for children 11 years and younger.
  • Monoclonal antibodies are not recommended if you are not high risk for severe illness.
  • You will need a positive COVID-19 viral test to seek this treatment.
  • Different treatment options are recommended once you have been hospitalized with severe illness.
  • It has been more than 10 days since you began having symptoms.
  • ✅ You are 12 years of age or older.
  • ❌ Monoclonal antibodies are not recommended for children 11 years and younger.
  • ✅ You are at high risk for severe illness. 
  • ❌ Monoclonal antibodies are not recommended if you are not high risk for severe illness.
  • ✅ You will need a positive COVID-19 viral test to seek this treatment
  • ❌ You will need a positive COVID-19 viral test to seek this treatment
  • ❌ Different treatment options are recommended once you have been hospitalized with severe illness.
  • ✅ You have not been hospitalized for COVID-19.
  • ✅ You tested positive for COVID-19 and began having symptoms within the past 10 days.
  • ❌ It has been more than 10 days since you began having symptoms.

If you received five green check marks, speak with your healthcare provider promptly to determine if monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 can help prevent severe illness. It is important to start treatment as soon as possible.

If you received ANY red x marks, then monoclonal antibodies likely aren’t a treatment option for you. Regardless, you should speak with your healthcare provider about your symptoms and treatment options.

Get the latest news and information.

Please enter a valid email address.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regularly updates treatment recommendations based on the expert panel at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who have developed and regularly update the NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines.

Supportive care is given for mild to severe symptoms. Supportive care means treating the symptoms while the disease runs its course. 

Emergency Warning Signs

Seek emergency care if you start having trouble breathing, experience pain or pressure in your chest, experience new confusion or inability to wake or stay awake, or develop a bluish tinge to your lips or face.

Recovery

While there is still much to learn about recovering from COVID-19, experience with other types of lung infections provides medical experts with some idea of what you may expect. Your path to recovery will be unique, depending on your overall health, the treatment provided and any co-existing conditions such as COPD, asthma or another chronic lung disease.  

Depending on your experience with COVID-19, the following complications may have occurred and may require additional support and recovery.  

  • COVID Pneumonia, a viral infection that generally occurs in both lungs and can be life threatening. As the lungs are infected and inflamed the air sacs fill with fluid, oxygen exchange becomes more challenging and results in breathing difficulties. 
  • Lung abscesses, which are infrequent, but serious complications of pneumonia. They occur when pockets of pus form inside or around the lung. These may sometimes need to be drained with surgery.
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a severe form of respiratory failure.
  • Long COVID, new or persistent symptoms occurring at least four weeks after initial infection. Join our Living with Long COVID online support community.

Share Your COVID-19 Story

Have you or a loved one had COVID-19? Please share how you’ve been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Learn More

Call the Lung HelpLine

Our Lung HelpLine is answering questions about COVID-19. Contact our Lung HelpLine by calling 1-800-LUNGUSA or submitting a question online.
Contact Us

Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel.

Page last updated: August 12, 2022

Asthma Educator Institute
, | Jul 11, 2022
FFS Clinic - St. Johnsbury, VT
St. Johnsbury, VT | Aug 02, 2022