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Already Had COVID? Here's Why You Should Still Worry 

You may not be out of the woods yet.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

Another COVID summer is here, and cases are increasing in many states, driven by subvariants of Omicron. If you're one of the many people who contracted Omicron since it became the dominant form of the virus earlier this year, you're in the clear, right? Not exactly. Here's why if you've already had COVID, you should still worry—and why it's still important to follow health experts' advice on taking precautions against the virus. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

You Can Be Reinfected With Omicron

Doctor analyzing patient blood and nasal swab testing sample for new covid-19 mutation.
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Even if you've contracted the Omicron variant already, mutations in the virus mean you can catch it again. Earlier in the pandemic, it was believed that you could be reinfected three months after your initial infection. This week, the New York Times reported that window of immunity after an infection could be as short as 20 days. The good news: Reinfections tend to be shorter and less severe. 

2

Reinfection Could Lead to Long COVID

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At the same time, experts say there's no way of knowing whether a reinfection will lead to the symptoms of long COVID. The risk is still there. Studies have found that between 10 to 30 percent of people who contract the coronavirus will develop long COVID, and 75% of people with long COVID had mild initial infections. Some experts believe that long-term COVID infections might lead to dangerous new variants.

3

What Is Long COVID?

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Long COVID is the umbrella term for a wide range of symptoms that last after a COVID infection. They can include fatigue, breathing difficulities, and neurological issues ranging from brain fog to depression, and can vary in severity from mild to debilitating. 

The General Accounting Office estimates that between 8 million and 23 million Americans have developed long COVID so far. According to CDC data through November 2021, one in five Americans aged 18 to 64 reported a later health condition that may be attributable to COVID-19. Among adults over 65, the number was one in four. 

4

Most Common Symptoms

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Says the CDC: "People who experience post-COVID conditions most commonly report:

General symptoms

  • Tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life
  • Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental effort (also known as "post-exertional malaise")
  • Fever

Respiratory and heart symptoms

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)

Neurological symptoms

  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as "brain fog")
  • Headache
  • Sleep problems
  • Dizziness when you stand up (lightheadedness)
  • Pins-and-needles feelings
  • Change in smell or taste
  • Depression or anxiety

Digestive symptoms

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain

Other symptoms

  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Rash
  • Changes in menstrual cycles."

5

How to Stay Safe Out There

Young woman taking a vaccine from her doctor.
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Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, 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, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael
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