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Early Signs You Have COVID Now, According to the Mayo Clinic

FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

During a pandemic, you want medical advice you can trust. That's why the Mayo Clinic has been so important. The nonprofit American academic medical center focused on integrated health care, education, and research doesn't have an agenda—other than to keep you healthy. So when you're wondering if your symptoms might be early signs of COVID-19, it's worth seeing what they think. "Signs and symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may appear two to 14 days after exposure," reports the Clinic. "This time after exposure and before having symptoms is called the incubation period. Common signs and symptoms can include" the following—read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus


You May Get a Fever

Sick woman with fever checking her temperature with a thermometer at home

As for COVID, "usually it's associated with a fever," says the Mayo Clinic. "Sometimes it's low-grade from 100.3 F to perhaps higher. Some people experience much higher fever that go up to 102 F or 103F."


You May Have a Cough


"And it can either be a dry cough, or they may cough up phlegm," says the Mayo Clinic.


You May Feel Tiredness

Portrait of young man felling depressed and desperate crying alone in sofa home suffering emotional pain and unhappiness

Not just feeling tired—you may have "a lot of fatigue." Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has warned that in many cases, this fatigue can last and resemble Chronic fatigue syndrome, aka myalgic encephalomyelitis. "Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that lasts for at least six months," says the Mayo Clinic. "The fatigue worsens with physical or mental activity, but doesn't improve with rest."


You May Experience a Loss of Taste or Smell

female cook standing at the hob in her apron tasting her food in the saucepan with a grimace as she finds it distasteful and unpalatable

Dr. Fauci called this a "curious" symptom. "COVID-19 might cause a new loss of smell or taste — without nasal congestion," says the Mayo Clinic. "This typically lasts nine to 14 days. Some research suggests that loss of smell or taste might be an early predictor of COVID-19."


You May Have Shortness of Breath or Difficulty Breathing

Curly woman feeling bad and suffering from strong cough while having flu

"Individuals may experience some shortness of breath," says the Mayo Clinic. If you can still take in oxygen but feel OK, call your medical professional. However, "call 911 or your local emergency number or have someone drive you to the emergency room if you experience severe shortness of breath that comes on suddenly and affects your ability to function."


You May Have Muscle Aches

Woman holding sore neck

"Symptoms of COVID-19 are typically myalgia, or muscle aches," says the Mayo Clinic. You might remember Ellen DeGeneres, for example, experienced "bad" pain in her back when she had COVID.


You May Have Chills


Chills are a sign yoru body is adjusting your temperature to combat the virus, and are usually accompanied by a fever. By the way: "Oral and rectal thermometers generally provide the most accurate measurement of core body temperature," says the Mayo Clinic. "Ear or forehead thermometers, although convenient, provide less accurate temperature measurements."


You May Have a Sore Throat or Runny Nose

RELATED: 11 Symptoms of COVID You Never Want to Get

These cold-like symptoms can also accompany COVID-19. The only way to truly be sure is to get tested. "Patients who think they are currently fighting the infection require a viral test," reports Pharmacy Times. "A study by Cleveland Clinic's Respiratory Institute has found that the viral load can determine what stage of recovery a patient is in—patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 tend to show higher viral loads before symptoms appear."


You May Have a Headache

Man at home having a headache in front of laptop

"Headache has been reported to be present in many patients of COVID‐19 with or without other neurological symptoms," says one study, which also presented a case with "raised intracranial pressure as a manifestation of SARS‐CoV‐2 infection. On examination, the patient was afebrile but irritable and agitated."

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


You May Have Chest Pain

Man With Heart Attack

This could be a muscle ache—or a heart issue. "In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the disease was recognized as a respiratory virus. Research is showing that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is causing more significant cardiac issues than initially thought," says the Clinic. "We are finding that COVID-19 can cause direct damage to the heart," says Dr. Leslie Cooper, chair of the Department of Cardiology at Mayo Clinic.


You May Develop Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

A woman's pink eye with infection.

One of the surprising signs discovered as the virus progressed, pink eye can be a sign. "Conjunctivitis, or 'pink eye,' is an infection or inflammation of the membrane lining the eyeball and eyelid," reports a review in CIDRAP.  One "study found that 49 of 216 pediatric COVID-19 patients (23%) hospitalized from Jan 26 to Mar 18 had conjunctival discharge and congestion and eye rubbing. Those with systemic coronavirus symptoms or cough were most likely to have ocular symptoms but improved or recovered with only eye drops or no treatment. The most common ocular signs and symptoms included conjunctival discharge, eye rubbing, and conjunctival congestion."


There Are More Symptoms As Well—Including Severe Ones

Unhealthy woman sit on bed touch stomach

"This list is not all inclusive," says the Mayo Clinic. "Other less common symptoms have been reported, such as rash, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea." Also: "The severity of COVID-19 symptoms can range from very mild to severe. Some people may have only a few symptoms, and some people may have no symptoms at all. Some people may experience worsened symptoms, such as worsened shortness of breath and pneumonia, about a week after symptoms start."

RELATED: The New COVID Symptom Every Woman Needs to Know


When You Should See a Doctor

Doctor wearing protection mask against covid taking notes during consultation with patient in medical clinic

"If you have COVID-19 symptoms or you've been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, contact your doctor or clinic right away for medical advice," advises the Mayo Clinic. "Tell your health care team about your symptoms and possible exposure before you go to your appointment." And if you have these signs, seek emergency treatment:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent chest pain or pressure
  • Inability to stay awake
  • New confusion
  • Blue lips or face


How to Survive This Pandemic

girl wear medical face mask on sunny city street

Seek medical help when you need it. Get a vaccine—"Mayo Clinic recommends that you get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it's available to you. COVID-19 vaccines are one of our best opportunities to bring the pandemic under control." And follow 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.

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