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COVID-19 Symptoms to Watch For—Depending On Your Age

Some symptoms of COVID-19 are age-specific

You've heard by now that the coronavirus can affect anyone, at any age. However, signs, symptoms, and severity of the highly infectious and deadly virus can vary from person-to-person, and more specifically, by age group. Read on to find your age and the symptoms that may befall you, so you can spot the virus when it strikes. 


Older Adults Over 60

Senior woman putting on face mask protection.

Older adults and/or people with existing chronic medical conditions are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. In fact, according to the CDC the overwhelming majority of fatalities—80 percent—have been over the age of 65. 


Symptoms if You're Over 60

Elderly woman feeling unwell,she's headache and painful around chest area.

Older adults are also more likely to develop ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome). According to a JAMA study, more than 40% of individuals in the study who were hospitalized with severe and critical COVID-19 developed the lung condition—and over 50% of those diagnosed died from the disease.

The CDC lists people over 65 or people who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility as "people who are at higher risk for severe illness."


Atypical Symptoms if You're Over 60

senior African American man sitting on white sofa in light room in beach house

According to the Kaiser Health Network, older adults with COVID-19 may have several "atypical" symptoms, complicating efforts to ensure they get timely and appropriate treatment. They claim that older adults may have none of the usual symptoms and may simply just seem "off" and not acting like themselves early in the infection. 

"They may sleep more than usual or stop eating. They may seem unusually apathetic or confused, losing orientation to their surroundings. They may become dizzy and fall. Sometimes, seniors stop speaking or simply collapse," they claim. 


Middle Aged Adults 40s-50s

man wears medical mask against transmissible disease, travels in subway

The chance of death due to COVID-19 does increase in this age group, according to the CDC

As with the previous age group, blood clots and strokes have been reported in those who are asymptomatic or suffering mild symptoms. 


Adults 18-40

Man hands on his head felling headache dizzy sense of spinning dizziness,a problem with the inner ear, brain, or sensory nerve pathway

According to the CDC, fewer deaths have been reported in the United States in adults up to the age of 40. People in this age group also tend to experience COVID-19 symptoms in a milder manner than those who are over 40.

However, blood clots—and even strokes, which are incredibly uncommon for younger people—have been reported in otherwise asymptomatic people in their 30s to 40s infected with the virus. The Washington Post recently reported that three large US medical institutions are getting ready to publish data on the subject after an overwhelming amount of patients under the age of 50 have died due to coronavirus-related strokes. 


Children Under 18

Child boy and girl playing outdoors with face mask protection. School boy breathing through medical mask

Based on the evidence, children are at a much lower risk for COVID-19 than adults, and there have been very few coronavirus-related deaths of those under 18, per the CDC

While many of the symptoms for children are similar to adults, children with confirmed COVID-19 generally experience them in a milder capacity. In fact, one Chinese study found that 90% of those who tested positive for the virus had mild symptoms or none at all.


Reported Symptoms for Those Under 18

Girl sleeping with sickness on the bed

Reported symptoms in children, according to the CDC, include cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported. However, keep in mind that children and young adults are less likely to experience one of the main and most damaging symptoms of the virus—shortness of breath. 

One bizarre symptom reported in young people has been dubbed "COVID toes." On April 9 the General Council of Official Colleges of Podiatrists in Spain issued a report after podiatrists began "registering numerous cases of sick people, mainly children and young people, who had small dermatological lesions on their feet." These purple-colored lesions, usually appearing on the tips of toes, were often in the absence or prior to an individual experiencing other COVID-19 symptoms. Luckily, most cases clear up on their own within a few weeks. 


A Rarer Symptom if You're Under 18

sick girl lying in bed with a thermometer in mouth and touch his forehead

The World Health Organization is also "urgently" investigating a possible link between the virus and Kawasaki syndrome, an illness of unknown cause that primarily affects children under 5. Symptoms of the condition include "fever, rash, swelling of the hands and feet, irritation and redness of the whites of the eyes, swollen lymph glands in the neck, and irritation and inflammation of the mouth, lips, and throat," according to the CDC


How to Protect Yourself at Any Age

Washing hands rubbing with soap man for corona virus prevention, hygiene to stop spreading coronavirus.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, and muscle pain, according to the CDC. Other reported symptoms include conjunctivitis (aka pink eye) and digestive issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. 

"There are things you can do to reduce your risk of getting sick," reports the CDC:

  • Stay home if possible.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Keep space between yourself and others (stay 6 feet away, which is about two arm lengths).

And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah