11 Ways to Tell You Have COVID Now, According to a Doctor
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen, with hospitalizations and deaths peaking across the country and health experts predicting yet another surge due to the holidays, identifying an infection in the early stages is more important than ever. Why? The sooner you realize you are carrying the highly infectious virus, the sooner you can quarantine yourself and prevent spreading it to others, and also start taking care of yourself. With so many symptoms associated with the virus, figuring out if yours fit the bill can be difficult, explains Dr. Abe Malkin, MD, Founder and Medical Director of Concierge MD LA, a home-based concierge medical practice. "While the symptoms and severity of symptoms vary widely depending on the individual and factors like their age, health and pre-existing conditions, there are some symptoms that are typical to most infections," he tells Eat This, Not That! Health. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
You Might Be Feeling Fatigue
"One of the most common and early signs is feeling fatigued," says Dr. Malkin. "If you suddenly have a loss of energy that you can't attribute to other conditions and it is accompanied by a combination of other symptoms, this is a sign of concern."
You Might Notice Neurological Issues
COVID-19 impacts the nervous system, explains Dr. Malkin, leading to neurological symptoms, "primarily severe headaches." Some of these symptoms may last after the virus leaves you. A number "of people who recover from COVID-19 have reported that they are experiencing neurological concerns such as headache, dizziness, lingering loss of taste or smell, muscle weakness, nerve damage, and trouble thinking or concentrating," writes Dr. Paul Wright, Senior Vice President and System Chair of Neurosciences, Nuvance Health. Others experience hallucinations.
You Might Have a Fever
One of the first signs of the virus reported by patients is a fever—and not always a super high one. He explains that even a low grade fever—a temperature under 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit—can signify an infection.
You Might Feel Shortness of Breath
One COVID-specific symptom is shortness of breath. In severe cases, individuals may struggle to breathe. If you cannot get enough air to function, seek emergency help, advises the CDC.
You Might Suffer Chest Pain
Chest pain is another sign you could be battling COVID-19, says Dr. Malkin. The virus infects your lungs and can also damage your heart.
You Might Have a Cough—Particularly a Dry Cough
A cough—typically more dry than mucusy— is another common COVID-19 symptom per Dr. Malkin.
You Might Experience a Loss of Your Sense of Taste or Smell
"One of the most tell-tale signs is loss of taste or smell which rarely occurs with other illnesses," says Dr. Malkin. "Studies suggest it better predicts the disease than other well-known symptoms such as fever and cough," says Harvard Health.
You Might Have Body Aches
Feeling body aches and pains is a common sign of COVID as well as other viral infections. These pains might be in your joints. "If you're experiencing joint pain, it may be caused by inflammation in your body. Inflammation attacks joint tissues, causing fluid in your joints, swelling, muscle damage, and more," according to Penn Medicine. "There are a few ways to manage inflammation in your joints from home. Just remember the useful acronym, R.I.C.E.: rest, ice, compression, and elevation."
You Might Suffer Gastrointestinal Issues
Some COVID-19 patients experience gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea, vomiting or nausea.
You're Likely to Have a Combination of Symptoms
If you only have one of these symptoms, it could be anything. But if you are experiencing more than one, there is a greater likelihood it is COVID. "While many of these are also symptoms of the common cold, flu and other illnesses, they are a common combination among COVID patients," he explains.
The Only Way to Be Sure it to Get Tested
There is only one way to know for sure if you have or had COVID-19. "The best way to be sure if you've had COVID is to be tested for a current infection or antibodies," states Dr. Malkin.
How to Survive This Pandemic
As for yourself, follow Dr. Anthony Fauci's 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.