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Warning Signs You Have COVID Now, According to Dr. Fauci

“The early symptoms of COVID-19 disease are very similar to a flu like syndrome,” says Dr. Fauci.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

"We are in the middle of a historic pandemic," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said. "And we're not through with it yet." That's why it's perfectly understandable for you to wonder: With all this COVID-19 going around, do I have the virus? Am I sick? "The early symptoms of COVID-19 disease are very similar to a flu like syndrome," says Dr. Fauci. Read on to hear the symptoms he considers to be hallmarks of the virus—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

Fever—of 100.4 degrees or higher—is the most common symptom but "you may or may not have fever," says Fauci. "And I don't think you need to rely on fever—that if you don't have a fever, you're okay. Because plenty of people in the very early period of time don't have fever." You may also get "chills," says Fauci.


You May Get a Cough

Young woman feeling sick and sneezing in a tissue at home.

A COVID cough is frequently described as "dry" and without phlegm. "The symptoms" between a cold, flu and COVID-19 "are similar, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath," according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. "To diagnose a potential case, healthcare professionals may use a COVID-19 diagnostic test and/or run tests to rule out flu and other infections."


You Might Have Shortness of Breath

Young man having asthma attack at home

In one of the scariest symptoms of COVID, the virus can literally take your breath away. Fauci says you may experience "maybe some fullness in your upper airway." Since COVID is a respiratory disease, it can target your lungs. Although it's advised to stay home during mild cases of COVID, if you cannot breathe, seek emergency treatment.


You Might Have Fatigue

Tired woman with closed eyes leaning over coach at home

"If someone comes in and says, you know, I kind of feel bushed today. I'm tired. I got this little scratchy feeling in my throat. I feel a little achy. That's a telltale sign" of COVID, says Dr. Fauci. That kind of bone-tired fatigue can last a long time for some patients; about 10% develop Post-COVID Syndrome, with fatigue as the primary symptom.

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


You Might Have a Sore Throat

Woman with sore throat at home

Dr. Fauci describes this as "sore throat, kind of a scratchy feeling." Again, since it can resemble a cold or flu, your doctor will likely administer a diagnostic test or COVID test to determine if it's indeed the coronavirus.


You Might Have a Stuffy Nose

Sick woman blowing her runny nose in paper tissue at home.

"There has been very little wheezing, nasal congestion, runny nose or sinus pressure reported," reports Charleston Allergy & Asthma. But there has been enough that Dr. Fauci and the CDC list it as a symptom of COVID-19.


You Might Have Body Aches

Woman sitting on the bed in the bedroom.

Dr. Fauci refers to this as "myalgia." Johns Hopkins says "muscle aches and pain, which can involve ligaments, tendons and fascia, the soft tissues that connect muscles, bones and organs. Injuries, trauma, overuse, tension, certain drugs and illnesses can all bring about myalgia."


You Might Get a Headache

Man is having a headache.

COVID-19 targets your nervous system, which is why you can get awful headaches. Interestingly, "the brain tissue doesn't have pain-sensitive nerve fibers and doesn't feel pain. But, other parts of the head can be responsible for a headache including:

  • A network of nerves that extends over the scalp
  • Certain nerves in the face, mouth, and throat
  • Muscles of the head, neck, and shoulders
  • Blood vessels found along the surface and at the base of the brain."

All of these can be affected by a coronavirus infection.


You Might Have "Even Some GI Symptoms"

Woman lying on sofa and suffering from stomach pain.

"…with vomiting and diarrhea," says Dr. Fauci. These have been said to be either the initial symptoms or the final symptoms; in any case, they are a common feature of COVID-19.

RELATED: If You Feel This, You May Have Already Had COVID, Says Dr. Fauci


You Might Suddenly Lose Your Sense of Taste or Smell

Man taking off face mask for smelling lemon

"Many people now have this curious loss of smell and taste," said Fauci. In one study, "at least 61% of the patients reported reduced or lost sense of smell, according to principal investigator Ahmad Sedaghat, MD, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and a UC Health physician specializing in otolaryngology," according to Infectious Disease Special Edition. "The mean onset for reduction or loss in sense of smell was 3.4 days." "We also found in this study that the severity of the loss of smell is correlated with how bad your other COVID-19 symptoms will be," Dr. Sedaghat said, "with worsening anosmia being linked to patient reports of more severe shortness of breath, fever and cough."


What Should You Do if You Feel These Symptoms?

Back view of a doctor attending to a woman patient through a video call with the laptop at home.

"If any of those symptoms appear, people should be careful and either stay home, try to get tested if you possibly can to know whether or not you're infected," Dr. Fauci told the Washington Post. "And if you are, obviously you should isolate yourself. If you get into some difficulty, you should notify your physician. But the best thing to do is stay home."

And follow his fundamentals: "Wear a face covering in public, maintain your physical distance, avoid crowds outdoors, always better than indoors where possible, wash hands frequently, avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth, clean and disinfect frequently; stay home when you are sick important," get vaccinated 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