Sure Signs You Have COVID Now, According to the FDA
With the coronavirus vaccine being administered as you read this, the "light at the end of the tunnel" is here—the beginning of the end of the pandemic. Making headlines along with it is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and approves the therapeutics administered to treat the virus. Who better, then, to know the symptoms of COVID-19? The agency has a survey for "an Assessment of 14 Common COVID-19-Related Symptoms" and we've collected them all here so you can do a quick self-assessment before seeking a test. Read on to see if you have any of these symptoms, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
You May Have a Sore Throat
"Like the common cold and flu, COVID-19 is a viral, respiratory illness that can indeed cause sore throat," reports Saddleback Urgent Care. "One study, commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO), found that out of more than 55,000 confirmed cases, 13.9 percent of people reported a sore throat. Get a COVID-19 test if you've been around someone who tested positive, or are exhibiting other COVID-19 symptoms, such as cough, difficulty breathing, and/or fever, along with chills, muscle pain, headache, and any new loss of taste or smell."
You May Have Shortness of Breath (Difficulty Breathing)
"Different people have different experiences with COVID-19," reports Nebraska Medicine. "Some people don't have issues breathing, while others do. Shortness of breath can lead to a very severe case of COVID-19 that requires invasive ventilation. So it's important to get help quickly if you relate to any of these:
- Can't fill your lungs with air
- Needing to pant
- Can't hold your breath
- Every inhale makes you cough
- Feels like you are suffocating
- Chest tightness or pain with breathing."
You May Have a Stuffy or Runny Nose
You can get a runny or stuffy nose if you have the common cold, the flu or simply because you took a walk in cold weather, irritating your sinuses. Or it could be COVID-19. "As with most clinical decision making, taking a thorough history should be the first step," suggests the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. "Has there been recent travel or contact with someone known to be infected with COVID? Has [someone] had seasonal or other environmental allergies before? What are their usual symptoms?" In any case, you can't rule out COVID. In an early report on the virus, the World Health Organization found that 4.8% of coronavirus patients surveyed had nasal congestion, based on 55,924 laboratory confirmed cases.
You May Have a Cough
Your COVID cough will likely be dry—as in, not produce phlegm. To treat it, follow these tips from the University of Maryland Medical System:
- "Drink warm beverages, like tea or broth. These heat up the airways, keep you hydrated and break up any mucus you might have in your throat and upper airway.
- Try a teaspoon of honey in hot tea or hot water. A little bit of honey tends to soothe a sore throat. However, children under 1 year old should not try honey.
- Breathe in steam. Use a hot shower, humidifier, vaporizer or other means of making steam. It will soothe a sore throat and open your airways, making it easier to breathe."
You May Have Low Energy or Tiredness
This one is quite common, and can be debilitating. "Fatigue is the presenting symptom in many patients with COVID-19, ranging from 44% to 70% of cases," writes By Dr. Liji Thomas, MD. "The extent and duration of this symptom remain an unknown area, mainly whether it represents a post-viral fatigue syndrome triggered by the virus." For some previously healthy individuals, chronic fatigue may last a lifetime, as part of what's called Post-COVID Syndrome. Take it seriously.
You May Have Muscle or Body Aches
"Myalgia"—a.k.a. body aches and pains—"is a common symptom in patients with viral infections such as novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and influenza," reports one study in the Nature Public Health Emergency Collection. "Myalgia reflects generalized inflammation and cytokine response and can be the onset symptom of 36% of patients with COVID-19….Myalgia and fatigue in patients with COVID-19 may be longer in duration than other viral infections and may be unresponsive to conventional painkillers."
You May Have a Head-Splitting Headache
A COVID headache can feel like a jackhammer. "I'm seeing patients while they're actively sick and also in follow-up, sometimes even months later, after they've recovered from COVID-19, but they're still having post-COVID-19 headache. In some patients, the severe headache of COVID-19 only lasts a few days, while in others, it can last up to months," writes Dr. Megan Donnelly, a women's neurologist and board-certified headache specialist at Novant Health Neurology and Headache – SouthPark."It is presenting mostly as a whole-head, severe-pressure pain. It's different than migraine, which by definition is unilateral throbbing with sensitivity to light or sound, or nausea. This is more of a whole-head pressure presentation."
You May Feel Chills or Shivering
"Chills usually do not occur by themselves but are part of a constellation with fever, shivering, muscle aches, headache, and other systemic symptoms," infectious disease expert John A. Sellick, DO, professor of medicine at the State University of New York at Buffalo, tells Health. If you have them with the other symptoms on this list, "COVID-19 certainly would be a consideration, as would influenza at this time of year," Dr. Sellick says.
Feeling Hot or Feverish
A study, published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, and led by experts at the USC Michelson Center's Convergent Science Institute in Cancer, found that a fever is most often the first sign of coronavirus. Makes sense: It is a primary way your body fights off disease. The CDC "considers a person to have a fever when he or she has a measured temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or greater, or feels warm to the touch, or gives a history of feeling feverish."
You May Feel Like You Want to Throw Up
"Many people with COVID-19 experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, sometimes prior to having fever and lower respiratory tract signs and symptoms," reports the CDC.
You Might Vomit
"In a recent study performed by the American Journal of Gastroenterology, researchers found that 50.5% of the 204 patients they analyzed reported some sort of digestive symptom, including loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain," reports Ochsner Health. "The study also noted that as the severity of COVID-19 increased for the patient, digestive symptoms became more pronounced." Be prepared to answer this question when the doctor asks, per the FDA: "How many times did you vomit (throw up) in the last 24 hours?"
You May Have Diarrhea
If diarrhea lasts a long time, be warned: "Increased vomiting and diarrhea can also cause dehydration. You should be aware of your liquid intake. If you experience reduced urination, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat, contact your physician," advises Ochsner Health. Be prepared to answer this question when the doctor asks, per the FDA: "How many times did you have diarrhea (loose or watery stools) in the last 24 hours?"
Rate Your Sense of Smell in the Last 24 Hours
Would you say your sense of smell is the same as usual, less than usual or do you have a sudden lack of a sense of smell? "Loss of smell (anosmia) or taste (ageusia) has been commonly reported, in a third of patients in one study, especially among women and younger or middle-aged patients," reports the CDC.
Rate Your Sense of Taste in the Last 24 Hours
Although ageusia can be a symptom of other medical issues, if it presents itself during the pandemic, assume you have coronavirus and take precautionary measures. Ask yourself: "My sense of taste is the same as usual, less than usual or do I have no sense of taste?"
What to Do If You Experience These Symptoms
If you fear you may have coronavirus, separate yourself from others immediately and take steps to get tested by calling your medical professional or by researching local testing sites. And to prevent getting COVID in the first place, follow the fundamentals, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene and to protect your life and the lives of others, and don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.