Warning Signs You Have COVID, According to the CDC
It can start with a tickle in your throat. Or a stuffy nose. Is it COVID-19, you're wondering? After all, there have been more than 18 million cases in America and more than 320,000 Americans are dead from it. Or is it just a common cold? You've gotten one every year. "People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness," reports the CDC. "Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19"—read on to hear about them, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
You Might Have Fever or Chills
The CDC defines a fever as "a measured temperature of 100.4 °F [38 °C] or greater." Although not everyone who has COVID has a fever, it is the most common initial sign. "Is checking somebody's temperature going to tell us they are infected? Is it going to tell us they aren't infected?" asks Christopher Butler, MD, a family medicine practitioner affiliated with Cape Cod Healthcare. "I guess the short answer is, in a few cases, yes. But there are going to be a lot of cases where people don't have a fever, but they are infected, and people who have a fever, who end up having something else."
You Might Have a Cough
A COVID cough is often described as "dry"—in other words, it does not produce phlegm, as it might should you have a cold or flu. The Oregonian tells of Joe Gutierrez, 42. "His journey started on June 2, he said, when he had 'a little cough.' He had been doing yard work and mowing down different kinds of weeds at his Hermiston home, so he chalked it up to allergies. But the next day, after he arrived at work, he realized he might actually be sick." By August, "I had a team of doctors working to get me back to life, because I was gone," he told the paper. Now recovering, "He tells everyone he can that they should take COVID-19 seriously and realize that if it could happen to him — someone not in a high risk category for age and with no underlying conditions — then they could end up with a life-changing hospitalization stay too."
You Might Have Shortness of Breath or Difficulty Breathing
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, so it's common for patients to have a shortness of breath, as the virus attacks the lungs. Other COVID-related reasons for shortness of breath may be a heart issue, costochondritis or anxiety; in any case, if you cannot breathe, seek emergency care, urge doctors.
You Might Suffer Fatigue
This full body fatigue can be profound—and, for some who have Post-COVID Syndrome, can be a defining feature of possibly the rest of their lives. "While most symptoms will disappear on their own, some people have reported specific symptoms lingering," reports BCBS of North Carolina. "These include fever, loss of taste or smell, fatigue and a prolonged cough."
You Might Feel Muscle or Body Aches
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has mentioned a "myalgia" among patients. These aches can feel like cramped muscles, strains or even like sharp shooting pains. According to Fauci, 11 to 35 percent report this type of body pain.
You Might Have a Painful Headache
"Bilateral, long-lasting headaches, resistance to analgesics and having male gender were more frequent in people with COVID-19 in conjunction with anosmia/ageusia and gastrointestinal complaints," says a new study in the Journal of Headache and Pain. Translation: Patients, guys especially, have long-lasting headaches on both sides of their head, over-the-counter painkillers didn't help, and the pain appeared often in tandem with a loss of taste or smell or diarrhea. "These features may be helpful for diagnosing the headache related to COVID-19 during the pandemic."
You Might Have a Shocking New Loss of Taste or Smell
Dr. Fauci says the most common symptoms are "fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, and one other that is uncommon with other ailments," and adds, "of particular interest is the rather frequent occurrence of loss of smell and taste, which precedes the onset of respiratory symptoms," he revealed.
You Might Have a Sore Throat
"A sore throat can be one symptom of COVID-19, although it isn't known when exactly this symptom will occur. In other respiratory illnesses, a sore throat is often an early symptom. Since this type of virus is inhaled, it enters your nose and throat first," says Ochsner Health. "Overall, a sore throat isn't a very common COVID-19 symptom. A study in China, commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO), found that out of more than 55,000 confirmed cases, only 13.9 percent of people reported a sore throat. If you develop a sore throat or other symptoms of a respiratory infection, rule out COVID-19 by being tested for it."
You Might Feel Congestion or Have a Runny Nose
Is it allergies…or is it COVID? "It can be a tricky question," says Christie Barnes, MD, Nebraska Medicine otolaryngologist. "The key is to determine whether you are having additional symptoms on top of your normal allergy symptoms."
You Might Experience Nausea or Vomiting
Have COVID? You might throw up. Or, in medical terms: " It is now clear that not only the lungs, the gastrointestinal tract could also be attacked by SARS-CoV-2. Its host receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), which acts as a gateway to infection, has been found to be highly expressed in the gastrointestinal epithelium and may lead to the development of nausea/vomiting," according to a recent study.
You Might Have Diarrhea
"Some patients with COVID-19 experience gastrointestinal symptoms, particularly diarrhea, as the first sign of illness, according to a new study," reports LiveScience. "Among this subset of patients — who have mild disease overall — respiratory symptoms show up only later in the illness, and some never develop respiratory symptoms at all, the authors said. The findings are important because those without classic symptoms of COVID-19 — such as cough, shortness of breath and fever — may go undiagnosed and could potentially spread the illness to others, the researchers said."
Look Out For The Following Emergency Warning Signs
"Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately," says the CDC:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19."
Remember, You Might Have No Symptoms at All!
Because nearly 40% of people are reported to be asymptomatic—as in, have no symptoms—you should assume any stranger has it—as might you, too. Also: "This list does not include all possible symptoms," says the CDC.
What to Do if You Feel the Symptoms
"If you have a fever, cough or other symptoms, you might have COVID-19," says the CDC. "Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider," and they note: "If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), get emergency medical care immediately."
And follow public health fundamentals and help end this surge, 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, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, 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.