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Patient resource: Managing post–COVID-19 symptoms

What to expect during recovery

What to expect during recovery

Everyone will have a different experience in their recovery from COVID-19. Some people may recover in days, some in weeks; for others, it could be months.  People recovering from more severe initial illness are likely to face a longer recovery period. 

Schedule regular appointments with your GP to discuss your symptoms and how best to manage them. Your GP will tell you about any medicines that might suit your needs. They may also refer you to other medical specialists or allied health services (for example, dieticians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists) if appropriate.

Common symptoms you may experience during your recovery1-4

Common symptoms Less common symptoms
  • Exhaustion/tiredness
  • Cough
  • Mild breathlessness
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Mild chest pain
  • Change in sense of taste or smell
  • Anxiety and/or low mood


  • Insomnia/poor sleep
  • Mildly raised temperature
  • Headache
  • Memory difficulties
  • Confusion
  • Muscle pain and weakness
  • Stomach and digestion difficulties
  • Rash
  • Depression
If you have any of the following symptoms, call emergency services on 000 immediately and tell the phone operator you’ve previously been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Severe, or worsening shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Severe chest pain, pressure or change in heart rate
  • New or increased confusion
  • Difficulty waking up or unusual drowsiness 3
  1. Greenhalgh T, Knight M, A’Court M, Buxton M, Husain L. Management of post- acute covid-19 in primary care. BMJ 2020;370:m3026.
  2. Nalbandian A, Sehgal K, Gupta K, et al. Post-acute COVID-19 syndrome. Nat Med 2021;27(4):601–15.National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce. Care of people with post-COVID-19 (version 4.1). Melbourne: National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce, 2022 Carfi A, Bernabei R, Landi R, Gemelli Against COVID-19 Post-Acute Study Group. Persistent symptoms in patients after acute COVID-19. JAMA 2020;324(6):603–05. [Accessed 12 May 2022]
  3. Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. COVID-19 patient rehabilitation booklet: Information for patients, 2020 [Accessed 1 December 2020].
  4. Royal College of Occupational Therapists. How to conserve your energy: Practical advice for people during and after having COVID-19, 2020 conserving-energy [Accessed 1 December 2020].
  5. Homerton University Hospital. Post COVID-19 patient information pack, 2020 [Accessed 1 December 2020].
  6. The British Medical Journal. Management of post-acute covid-19 in primary care, 2020 [Accessed 1 December 2020].
  7. World Health Organization. Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak, 2020 mental-health-considerations [Accessed 1 December 2020].
  8. National Health Service. Your COVID recovery: Musculoskeletal, shoulder and back pain, 2020 [Accessed 1 December 2020].
  9. World Health Organization. Smoking and COVID-19, 2020 news-room/commentaries/detail/smoking-and-covid-19 [Accessed 1 December 2020].
  10. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Supporting smoking cessation: A guide for health professionals. 2nd edn. 2019 resources/clinical-guidelines/key-racgp-guidelines/view-all-racgp-guidelines/supporting- smoking-cessation [Accessed 1 December 2020].
  11. Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation. Clinical guidance for COVID-19 vaccine providers. Canberra; ATAGI, 2022 [Accessed 5 May 2022].
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