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COVID Symptoms Normally Appear in This Order, Says Doctor

Understanding the timing of coronavirus symptoms can help identify the virus.
Woman feeling sharp pain.

Fever, shortness of breath, dry cough—these are a few of the COVID-19 symptoms that most of us know to look out for thanks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the country's leading health experts. However, in addition to identifying the specific symptoms associated with the virus, it can also be helpful in understanding the order they generally appear. "While symptoms can appear in a certain order, it doesn't always happen that way," Darren Mareiniss, MD, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Sidney Kimmel Medical College – Thomas Jefferson University, explains to Eat This, Not That! Health. "They can be quite variable." However, according to scientific studies and what Dr. Mareiniss has witnessed firsthand in the hospital, this is the general order in which they appear. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus



Depressed young woman sitting on floor at home

According to Dr. Mareiniss, extreme exhaustion (aka fatigue) is one of the first symptoms of an infection. "Patients tend to exhibit symptoms around the 2-10 days after infection," he explains. "This is the incubation period. On average, symptoms appear on day 5."



Beautiful young woman suffering from backache at home

After fatigue, the next symptom that usually arises is myalgia, aka muscle aches. These are similar to the types of aches and pains associated with the flu and often misattributed to soreness after a workout. 


Chills and Fever

Next up, COVID-19 patients generally experience changes in body temperature, such as the chills and/or a fever, Dr. Mareiniss reveals. 



Ill woman coughing at bed.

Following the initial set of symptoms, many COVID patients develop a cough, which is generally described as dry.

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Shortness of Breath

Asian woman having difficulty breathing in bedroom at night

Some patients also experience shortness of breath around this time. "Patients can become significantly sicker with hypoxia, weakness, and shortness of breath at day 6-10 of symptoms," Dr. Mareiniss explains. 


You Can Still Infect Others Without Symptoms

Portrait of cheerful young friends having fun while talking in a cafe

Once you start experiencing symptoms, consider yourself contagious. However, Dr. Mareiniss offers up an important point: patients are actively spreading virus while infected and asymptomatic. "That's why it's not reassuring when people claim to feel fine," he explains. "They could be infected and spreading but asymptotic."


How to Survive This Pandemic

woman puts on face mask

As for yourself, follow the suggested prevention measures 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.