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COVID Symptoms Usually Appear In This Order

Knowing their order could help you identify an infection. 

One of the issues with identifying a COVID-19 infection, is that many of its symptoms mirror other illnesses, including the cold and flu. This is why some researchers felt the need to study the symptom set of the virus, in hopes that identifying the order in which they generally appear could help people know whether their symptoms were likely COVID or something else. According to their finding, published in Frontier of Public Health, this is the order that COVID-19 symptoms generally appear. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus


First: Fever

Sick woman with cold and flu.

The first symptom and one of the most common symptoms of COVID is generally a spike in temperature. While some people only experience a slight increase, others report a full blown fever over 100.4. 


Second: Cough


Another trademark symptom of COVID that people report directly after a fever is a cough. Unlike the wet, mucusy cough of other illnesses, the one associated with the virus is drier in nature. 


Third: Sore Throat

woman touching her neck and feeling pain in throat while sitting in the living room at home.

There are three symptoms that occur after a fever and cough, and can arise simultaneously or independently. The first of them? A sore throat. 


Also Third: Headache


One of the other three symptoms of the group is a headache. According to one study, headache was reported in 11 to 34 percent of the hospitalized COVID-19 patients and around 6 to 10 percent of all symptomatic patients.


Also Third: Myalgia

Side view of a frowned young man suffering from pain in loin while sitting on white bedding

Myalgia, defined as muscle aches or pains, rounds out the trifecta of symptoms in this group, and researchers note that "all three are likely to occur next before proceeding. 


Fourth: Nausea/Vomiting

Sick woman coughing, experiencing hiccup.

The next batch of symptoms can be described as gastrointestinal in nature. According to the study nausea and vomiting are not uncommon manifestations of the virus. "COVID-19 might cause mild gastrointestinal symptoms," explains the Mayo Clinic. For some, the symptoms may only last one day, while others may experience them longer. 


Fifth: Diarrhea

woman hand flush toilet after using

Finally, diarrhea is the last symptom in the order, experienced by an estimated 20% of COVID-19 patients, according to Johns Hopkins University. "For children and adults, it is important to monitor for dehydration caused by diarrhea before the illness becomes extreme. Starting oral rehydration within 24 hours of symptom onset can be lifesaving," William Greenough, M.D., infectious disease expert and professor emeritus of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, explained. 


Not Every Infection Is Alike

Sick woman blowing nose on her sofa.

"The type and severity of first symptoms can vary widely from person to person, and that is why it is very important to call your doctor if you think you have any symptoms," the Mayo Clinic warns. "Some people may never notice symptoms because they have a mild case." Pay attention to your symptoms and get tested if you think you might have COVID. 

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


How to Survive This Pandemic

girl wear medical face mask on sunny city street

Seek medical care if you experience any of these symptoms, and follow the 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.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah