How Long Do COVID-19 Symptoms Linger?

Kenneth Knowles, MD
Medically reviewed by Kenneth Knowles, MDJanuary 7th, 2021
sick senior

At this point in the pandemic, you’re probably familiar with the tell-tale symptoms of

COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). While some cases don’t cause any noticeable symptoms, many patients report a hacking cough, fever, chills, headaches, digestive troubles and a loss of taste or smell. But, if you have COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms, how long can you expect them to last? And is there a way to get over your symptoms more quickly?

[availability_widget] It’s important to remember that COVID-19 is a new disease that researchers and doctors are learning more about every day. As the medical community continues to observe and treat patients, new insights will likely be discovered. Currently, here’s what we know:

  • COVID-19 symptoms may develop anywhere between two and 14 days after initial exposure to the virus.
  • On average, COVID-19 symptoms develop about five days after initial exposure, and nearly all symptomatic patients begin feeling sick within 11 days.
  • Many patients with mild or moderate cases of COVID-19 fully recover from symptoms in about 10 to 14 days.

Still, there are no absolutes when it comes to COVID-19. Some patients may only feel sick for a few days, while others experience the lingering effects of this illness for months. According to the Mayo Clinic, the novel coronavirus may damage the lungs, heart or brain, leading to what some experts are calling “post-COVID-19 syndrome” or “long COVID-19.”

Seniors, individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, and people who developed severe symptoms are more likely to experience long-term effects of COVID-19. But, young people and individuals who only had mild cases may also feel under the weather for several weeks or months. Possible long-term COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Joint pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Rash
  • Hair loss

How Long Is COVID-19 Contagious For?

Another big question these days is how long COVID-19 is contagious for. Here’s what data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests:

  • People with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 can remain contagious for up to 10 days after symptoms develop.
  • In more severe cases of COVID-19, patients may be contagious for up to 20 days after symptoms develop.
  • COVID-19 patients who do not have noticeable symptoms are advised to self-isolate for 10 days after receiving a positive test result.

Can I Shorten the Duration of COVID-19 Symptoms?

COVID-19 is a viral infection that is caused by SARS-CoV-2, a type of coronavirus. As is the case with most other viral infections, COVID-19 can’t simply be cured—the virus must run its course over a few days or weeks. However, there are several steps you can take to help bolster your immune system and reduce the severity of symptoms, including:

  • Getting lots of rest
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Eating soup or warm broths to soothe a sore throat
  • Taking an over-the-counter fever reducer

Most importantly, you should stay in touch with a medical professional—either virtually or over the phone—if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, especially if your symptoms worsen. Or, you can receive expert medical care for coronavirus symptoms in the comfort and safety of home by calling on DispatchHealth. Our fully equipped medical teams provide on-demand, in-home treatment for COVID-19 symptoms while adhering to the most stringent of infection control and sanitization protocols. And, our mobile medical services are affordable—the cost of a DispatchHealth visit is about the same as a trip to an urgent care center.


Give us a call, go on our website, or use our app to request in-home care from DispatchHealth. We accept most health insurance plans and are available during extended hours.

Call 911 immediately in the event of a life-threatening emergency or severe coronavirus symptoms such as trouble breathing, bluish skin, or persistent chest pain.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

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