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Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID, According to New Study

These “long-term complications” are ruining lives.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

As the coronavirus death toll rises each day, many folks who got the virus still live—but live diminished lives. "It is increasingly recognized that SARS-CoV-2 can produce long-term complications after recovery from the acute effects of infection," write a new study's authors in Medrxiv. They analyzed the "self-reported short and long-term symptoms in a general adult population cohort comprised of 233 COVID-19+ cases, 3,652 SARS-CoV-2-negative controls, and 17,474 non-tested individuals"; read on to see if you had the most popular symptoms, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus



Portrait of young woman smelling a fresh and sweet nectarine

"Anosmia, the technical term for the once relatively unfamiliar loss of one's ability to smell, is now all too common," reports Stat News. "It has become a critical diagnostic marker of Covid-19. As we have come to learn, asymptomatic carriers—people infected with the novel coronavirus who don't show visible symptoms—can still infect others. One telltale sign of otherwise asymptomatic carriers is that they often experience sudden-onset anosmia." And it can last for months and months.



woman, annoyed, frustrated fed up sticking her finger in her throat

This is a lost of taste—and it can possibly be permanent. A study in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care chronicles a woman who had COVID, got a clear chest X-ray, had stable vitals—"however," weeks later, "there was little improvement in the symptoms of loss of taste and smell, which were still persistent."


Difficulty Concentrating

Mature man with bad headache at home

"About half of hospitalized patients have neurological manifestations of COVID-19, which include headache, dizziness, decreased alertness, difficulty concentrating, disorders of smell and taste, seizures, strokes, weakness and muscle pain," reports Northwestern. "It's important for the general public and physicians to be aware of this, because a SARS-COV-2 infection may present with neurologic symptoms initially, before any fever, cough or respiratory problems occur," said lead author of the review, Dr. Igor Koralnik, Northwestern Medicine chief of neuro-infectious diseases and global neurology and a professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. 

RELATED: COVID Symptoms Usually Appear in This Order, Study Finds




Shortness of breath is a hallmark of COVID—and can last long after you've shed the virus. "Doctors are eyeing lung and heart complications including scarring. Patients who become critically ill with COVID-19 seem more likely to have lingering shortness of breath, but those with mild cases are also at risk," reports Science. "We additionally observe that individuals who had an initial symptom of dyspnea are significantly more likely to develop long-term symptoms," say the new study's authors.


Memory Loss

Horizontal portrait of stressful stylish unshaven male regrets something, keeps hand on head, looks down in despair

"In addition to changing behavior and regulating physiological responses during illness, the specialized immune system in the brain also plays a number of other roles. It has recently become clear that the neuroimmune cells that sit at the connections between brain cells (synapses), which provide energy and minute quantities of inflammatory signals, are essential for normal memory formation," reports MedicalXpress. "Unfortunately, this also provides a way in which illnesses like COVID-19 can cause both acute neurological symptoms and long-lasting issues in the brain."



Woman having headache migraine. Stress and depression.

"Patients with COVID-19 are experiencing an array of effects on the brain, ranging in severity from confusion to loss of smell and taste to life-threatening strokes," reports Johns Hopkins. "Younger patients in their 30s and 40s are suffering possibly life-changing neurological issues due to strokes."



woman in a couch with headache and a hand on forehead

"Our data shows that the most commonly experienced early symptoms are actually headache (82%) and fatigue (72%) — and this is the case for all age groups," reports the COVID Symptom Study. "Only 9% of COVID-positive adults aged 18 — 65 didn't experience headache or fatigue. Of course, headache and fatigue commonly occur in other conditions which is why they don't trigger a test on their own." These headaches and fatigue can last for months—and possibly never go away.


Heart Palpitations

Woman having bad ache and pain heart attack health problem.

"The virus can harm the heart, and doctors are concerned about long-term damage. How the heart heals after COVID-19 could help determine whether a patient develops an irregular heartbeat," reports Science.


Chest Pain

Portrait Of A Mature Man Having Heart Attack

"In the study of Italian patients, the most common symptoms reported at follow-up were fatigue, shortness of breath, joint pain, and chest pain, in that order," reports JAMA. "None of the patients had a fever or other sign or symptom of acute illness, but about 44% of them had a worsened quality of life."

RELATED: 7 Tips You Must Follow to Avoid COVID, Say Doctors


Pain with Deep Breaths

in pain touching chest respiratory symptoms fever, coughing, body aches

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, so naturally your breathing would be affected. Researchers are now discovering the lungs may be scarred, causing pain when breathing deep—for life.




In one neurological study, "overall, 25% of patients had symptoms considered as evidence of CNS (central nervous system) dysfunction, including dizziness (17%), headache (13%), impaired consciousness (7.5%), acute cerebrovascular disease (3%), ataxia (0.5%), and seizures (0.5%)."



Patient complains of heart pain to a cardiologist doctor

Long haulers are seeing a heart rate over 100 beats per minute.



Sick woman covered with a blanket lying in bed with high fever and a flu.

Although not mentioned in the study, "one of the most insidious long-term effects of COVID-19 is its least understood: severe fatigue. Over the past nine months, an increasing number of people have reported crippling exhaustion and malaise after having the virus," reports Nature. "Your healthcare provider will review your health history and do a physical exam," says Cedars-Sinai. "They can easily notice a fast heartbeat by taking your pulse. But, it is important to rule out other causes for the fast heartbeat. It is also important to learn what type of tachycardia is present. Other types of tachycardia may need different treatment." If you have experienced any of the symptoms mentioned above, call a medical professional, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek