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COVID-19: Recovery Time 

Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team

Updated on


  • COVID-19 recovery usually takes 1 to 4 weeks but can even take up to 12 weeks in some cases.
  • If your symptoms last longer than 12 weeks, you may have a condition called long COVID or post COVID. 
  • People with mild to moderate symptoms recover faster than those with severe symptoms.
  • Some home remedies can help you get rid of COVID-19 more quickly. 

COVID-19 recovery time depends on a few factors and can take 2 to 12 weeks. In this article, we’ll guide you through the different aspects that impact your recovery, the amount of time your illness will approximately last, depending on your risk profile, and how you can speed up your COVID-19 recovery.

What is the average COVID-19 recovery time? 

How long COVID-19 symptoms usually last can vary from person to person. After incubation, most people start experiencing mild to moderate symptoms and need approximately 2 weeks to recover from COVID-19. For those who experience severe symptoms due to the coronavirus, the COVID-19 recovery period usually takes longer and can last up to 12 weeks. 1 2

There are several cases of mild and severe COVID-19, with people experiencing long-term symptoms lasting longer than 12 weeks. This happens to about 1 in 13 people infected with the coronavirus. This is called long COVID or post COVID-19 syndrome

Depending on the severity of the symptoms and their impact on your life, you can get treatment or advice on monitoring and managing your symptoms. 3

What affects your COVID-19 recovery time?

How long it takes to recover from COVID-19 can vary from person to person and depends on a few factors. Things that can affect your COVID-19 recovery time are: 4

  • Your age: older people often need more time to recover than younger people. 
  • Your sex: men tend to need more time to recover from COVID-19 than women. 
  • The severity of your symptoms: if you had severe symptoms, your recovery will likely take longer than those who have experienced mild symptoms. This is especially true for those who needed oxygen supplementation during their illness. 
  • Underlying health issues: people with underlying health issues need a longer COVID-19 recovery time than others. Especially those who suffer from chronic lung conditions are at risk of a prolonged recovery. 
  • Vaccination status: people who have been vaccinated tend to need less time to recover from COVID-19. The immune system can react quickly against the coronavirus after vaccination. As your immunity decreases after a while, it’s recommended to keep your vaccination up to date with booster vaccines. 

How long can you test positive for COVID-19 after recovery? 

Testing for COVID-19 is essential to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. There are a few situations in which it’s crucial to get tested: 5

  • If you experience symptoms of COVID-19
  • If you have been in close contact with someone who was infected with the coronavirus. If you don’t present any symptoms, then it’s important to wait at least 5 days after exposure before testing. If you test too soon, your results may be inaccurate. 
  • Before being in contact with someone who has a high risk of severe symptoms due to COVID-19

In some cases, you may still test positive for COVID-19 even if your symptoms have cleared. This depends on the type of test you’ve used. 2 main types of tests are being used to check whether or not you’ve been infected with the coronavirus. These are: 5 6

  • NAAT tests: These are typically the most reliable for people with and without symptoms. NAAT tests, such as PCR-based tests, can detect the genetic material of the coronavirus. This genetic material can stay in your body for up to 90 days after you’ve been infected, even if you’re not contagious anymore. This means that using a NAAT test is not recommended if you know you've been infected with the coronavirus in the last 90 days. 
  • Antigen tests: An antigen test can detect antigens from the coronavirus. Antigens are substances which cause a response from the immune system. This type of test is less specific, especially for those who are not experiencing symptoms. It is however a great alternative if you’ve already been infected with the coronavirus in the last 90 days. However, it's a great alternative if you've been infected with the coronavirus in the last 90 days. It's recommended to perform a couple of these tests over a certain period to ensure you have not been infected.

COVID-19 recovery tips 

The recovery from COVID-19 usually takes some time, while your immune system will do the work for you. If you want to get over COVID-19 faster, or if you want to ease your symptoms a bit, then there are a few things you can do to feel better with COVID-19: 7

  • Resting as much as possible
  • Making sure that you drink enough water
  • Taking paracetamol, ibuprofen, or naproxen to help alleviate your symptoms 

For many people, coughing is one of the symptoms of COVID-19. You can try reducing your cough by: 8

  • Sitting upright instead of lying on your back
  • Contacting your healthcare provider about possible cough medication or treatment 

Besides these tips, the best way to reduce your COVID-19 recovery period is by getting vaccinated and keeping your vaccination up to date. This causes your immune system to act swiftly once you’ve been in contact with the coronavirus so that the course of the disease is milder and shorter. 

For most people, these home remedies for COVID-19 will help you find relief while your immune system is overcoming the infection. It’s, however, vital to monitor your symptoms and to contact your doctor if: 8

  • You’re gradually feeling worse
  • You have difficulty breathing when not physically active
  • You feel very weak, and basic tasks feel too difficult
  • You’re shaking or shivering
  • You still feel unwell after a month

COVID-19 recovery guidelines are a bit different for people at risk of severe symptoms due to the coronavirus. Some groups of people are eligible for treatment with antiviral medication that supports your immune system's defense against the coronavirus. It’s crucial that this medication gets started as soon as possible to be effective. Your risk profile will be analyzed by your doctor and is determined by: 9 10

  • Your age
  • Your vaccination status
  • Your underlying health conditions and therapy
  • Your overall health status (including factors such as obesity, smoking and high blood pressure)
  • Whether or not you’re pregnant

Wrapping up

Your COVID-19 recovery time usually takes 1 to 4 weeks, but for some people even up to 12 weeks, depending on the severity of your symptoms and overall health status. Some people experience symptoms beyond this time frame, which may indicate that they have a condition called long-COVID. 


Q: What are the usual signs that COVID-19 is getting better? 
A: The first sign of recovery is that you usually recover from a fever. After that, the other symptoms should start fading away as well. 

Q: How long does it take to recover from COVID-19? 
A: Recovering from COVID-19 can take 1 to 12 weeks, depending on the severity of your symptoms and your overall health status. Some people may experience long-lasting symptoms beyond this time frame. 

Q: How long does COVID-19 cough last after recovery?
A: A cough is one of the symptoms which may linger on after the infection with the coronavirus has cleared. It’s recommended to consult your doctor for more advice and treatment on this symptom of long-COVID. 

Q: How to speed up recovery from COVID-19?
A: A few COVID-19 recovery guidelines can help you recover faster. These include getting plenty of rest, drinking plenty of water, and following a healthy diet.