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Coronavirus and COVID-19

If you have a lung condition and get coronavirus

If you have coronavirus symptoms or a positive test result, it’s important to take the right steps to protect yourself and others.

On this page:

How will I know if I have COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 in adults can be:

  • a high temperature or shivering (chills)
  • a new continuous cough 
  • a loss or change in your sense of smell and a reduce sense of taste
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • an aching body
  • a headache
  • a sore throat
  • a blocked or runny nose
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick or being sick

You may find the symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to that of your lung condition flaring up, a cold or the flu, or even similar to hay fever. 

Read more about coronavirus symptoms in adults and children on the NHS website.

In England, if you are at risk from coronavirus and eligible for the coronavirus treatments, you can order free lateral flow tests to confirm if you have COVID-19. If you’re not eligible for free testing, you can buy tests from some local pharmacies. 

If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you can order tests for free regardless of whether you’re at risk. 

I have COVID-19 – what should I do?

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 you should stay at home, avoid contact with other people, and follow the public health guidance for where you live.

If you have mild symptoms of coronavirus, these can normally be treated safely at home. Get lots of rest, drink plenty of water, and take paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease symptoms if you can. If you live alone, ask someone to check on you regularly. But it’s safer if they don’t come into your home. 

The NHS has advice on how to manage coronavirus symptoms, like a cough and fever.

Call 999 if: 

  • you can’t finish short sentences when you’re resting because you’re so out of breath. 
  • your breathing suddenly worsens within an hour

It is very important to continue taking your usual medications, and not to change any doses. You should also continue to follow your self-management plan. 

If you notice any symptoms of your lung condition getting worse, you should speak to your GP or specialist doctor. 

If you have a pulse oximeter 

If you live with a lung condition such as pulmonary fibrosis, you may already have a pulse oximeter at home. They are used to measure your blood oxygen levels. 

If you have COVID-19 and you’re at high risk of becoming seriously ill, your GP or health care professional may ask you to monitor your oxygen level. If you don’t have a pulse oximeter at home, the NHS may be able to provide one for you if you test positive. You can also buy them online or in pharmacies. 

More support 

Help and support is available if you’re staying at home because of coronavirus, whether it’s help with everyday tasks like food shopping, or financial support if you cannot work. Read more about the support available on the NHS website.

Treatments for coronavirus

Coronavirus treatments are available to those most at risk of serious illness from coronavirus. The NHS will confirm if you are eligible for these treatments. 

You will be sent a PCR test to keep at home if you’re eligible. This is so you can use it as soon as possible after developing coronavirus symptoms or after a positive lateral flow test. If the PCR test is positive, the NHS will contact you about accessing treatments. You GP can’t prescribe coronavirus treatments.

The treatments currently available are:

  • sortovimab (Xevudy)
  • remdesivir (Veklury)
  • molnupiravir (Lagevrio)
  • nirmatrelvir and ritonavir (Paxlovid) .

You can read more about coronavirus treatments and who may be eligible on the NHS website.

Panoramic trial

Some antiviral medicines to treat coronavirus are also available more widely through a trial being run by the University of Oxford (the Panoramic trial). The trial is open to people in the UK who: 

  • have tested positive for COVID-19 using a PCR test
  • have COVID-19 symptoms that started within the last 5 days
  • are aged 50 and over or are aged 18 and over with a health condition that puts them at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19.

Read more about accessing treatment through the Panoramic trial.

Coronavirus treatments should not be used or seen as a substitute for the coronavirus vaccine or booster.

Last updated: Monday 4 April 2022


We use your comments to improve our information. We cannot reply to comments left on this form. If you have health concerns or need clinical advice, call our helpline on 03000 030 555 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.

Last medically reviewed: May 2022. Due for review: May 2022

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.