Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID-19, Says Dr. Fauci
This week was a landmark one for those who caught COVID and still suffer the effects months, or even a year, later. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, announced that $1.15 billion of funding was being devoted to studying the issue, which he now calls post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (or PASC). "After the virus essentially has been cleared from the body, new symptoms sometimes arise well after the time of infection or they evolve over time and they may persist…for months and can range from mild annoying to actually quite incapacitating." Read on to see if you have these symptoms—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
You May Have Fatigue
Dr. Fauci warns of "extreme fatigue" during PASC, and mentioned a University of Washington study, published in JAMA, in which more than 30% of those with PASC have symptoms, fatigue being the most common. "Consistent with existing literature, fatigue was the most commonly reported symptom," wrote the authors. It can be similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or myalgic encephalomyelitis, for which there is no cure.
You Might Lose Your Sense of Taste or Smell
"Many people now have this curious loss of smell and taste" when infected with COVID-19, Fauci has said. In that U of W study, just as many people had fatigue as lost their sense of taste or smell. This loss is often the most signifying symptom of getting COVID in the first place, and for some never comes back. "ENT specialists are still unsure if the loss of sense of taste or smell occurs because the COVID-19 virus directly damages the olfactory nerve, or whether this is due to nasal inflammation and obstruction," says Dr. Deborah Lee.
You May Have Shortness of Breath
Even a mild case of COVID can damage your lungs, and this damage can cause a long-lasting shortness of breath. Anxiety can also cause a shortness of breath. It's just one of the many troubling symptoms. "We do know for absolutely certain that there is a post-COVID syndrome," Dr. Fauci said. "Anywhere from 25% to 35%—or more—have lingering symptoms well beyond what you would expect from any post viral syndrome like influenza and others. It's fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle aches, dysautonomia…."
You May Have Sleep Disorders
Insomnia, vivid dreams, nightmares and restless leg syndrome have been reported by long haulers. The virus can impact the body's neurological system, thus rendering a normal night's sleep impossible. Not to mention, aches and pains can disrupt sleep.
You May Have Fevers or Temperature Fluctuations
Getting a fever—and then losing it, only to have it return—can happen with PASC. Your body may be constantly trying to fight an infection, even if the virus has already left your body, theorize scientists. This may also lead to chills.
You May Have GI Symptoms
Vomiting, diarrhea and nausea are common GI symptoms of PASC. Doctors recommend you stick to a healthy diet and don't eat anything to exacerbate this particular symptom.
You May Have Anxiety or Depression
Neurological symptoms are common among long haulers; and naturally, the circumstances of a chronic illness with no cure in sight can be worrying. Anxiety or depression are bound to happen, especially with no end to suffering in sight: "Our research indicates that the health consequences of Covid-19 extend far beyond acute infection, even among those who experience mild illness," wrote the University of Washington authors. "Comprehensive long-term investigation will be necessary to fully understand the impact of this evolving viral pathogen."
You May Have Brain Fog
Dr. Fauci calls brain fog "an inability or a difficulty in concentrating or focusing." It's also a hallmark symptom of ME/CFS. "Clinically known as dysexecutive syndrome, the condition is a COVID-19-kindled delirium, initially experienced by patients — mostly older — while sick as a state of confusion and impaired awareness. It then often stays on after recovery to torment as persistent cognitive sluggishness," reports Johns Hopkins. "Now, pathologists at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston have found evidence that large bone marrow cells known as megakaryocytes may be responsible for the brain fog. They suggest that megakaryocytes migrate to the brain in a journey precipitated by the destructive activity of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19."
You May Have a Variety of Symptoms
Along with the above, patients have reported up to 98 different symptoms affecting all systems of the body. (See here for all 98 symptoms.) Dr. Fauci said he and the NIH held a big seminar devoted to Long COVID and they "looked at various organ systems and brought in experts in all of these areas, cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, neurologic, immunologic, and pediatrics, to scope out the kinds of things that we would need to be looking at with this puzzling syndrome."
What to Do If You Fear You Have PASC
PASC can happen to anyone. "We were somewhat surprised to find that so many people who were relatively young and healthy were still having symptoms so far out," said researcher Denise J. McCulloch, MD, of the University of Washington. If you suspect you have it, contact 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.