You Can Get Better with Appropriate Home Care

Most people with respiratory infections like colds, the flu, and Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) will have mild illness and can get better with appropriate home care and without the need to see a provider.

The California EMS Authority has issued home care instructions for patients with a mild respiratory infection.

People who are elderly, pregnant, or have a weak immune system or other medical problems are at higher risk of more serious illness or complications. It is recommended that they carefully monitor their symptoms and call their medical provider or seek medical care early if their symptoms worsen.

There is no specific treatment for most viruses including those that cause the common cold and those that cause COVID-19. Sometimes there is a treatment for the viruses that cause influenza if given early.

Antibiotics treat infections caused by bacteria, but they do not work against viruses. Most people recover on their own from these viruses, including COVID-19.

Here are steps that you can take to help you get better:

  • Rest;
  • Drink plenty of fluids;
  • Take over-the-counter cold and flu medications to reduce fever and pain. Follow the instructions on the package, unless your doctor gave you instructions. Note that these medicines do not “cure” the illness and therefore do not stop you from spreading germs; and
  • Children should not be given medication that contains aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) because it can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome. Medicines without aspirin include acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®). Children younger than age 2 should not be given any over-the-counter cold medications without first speaking with a doctor.

You should seek medical care if you are not getting better within a week, or if your symptoms get worse. If you are elderly, pregnant, have a weak immune system, or other medical problems, call your doctor right away. It is recommended that you seek medical care for serious symptoms, such as:

  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Can’t keep fluids down;
  • Dehydration or dizziness;
  • Confusion; and
  • Other serious symptoms.

The California Department of Public Health is issuing daily updates on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Stay informed by visiting