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This is Usually the First Sign You Have COVID, According to a Doctor

Hint: Fever isn’t one of them. 
FACT CHECKED BY Checkmark Alek Korab
Disturbed woman lying awake in bed suffer from insomnia headache

Due to the highly infectious nature of COVID-19, one of the best ways each and every one of us can play our role in preventing the spread of the virus—saving lives in the process—is by effectively identifying an infection as early on as possible. So what's the first sign you have it? Of the laundry list of symptoms that appears on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, there are two that generally appear days before the others. Carlos R. Oliveira, MD, Ph.D., Yale Medicine pediatric infectious disease doctor, reveals to Eat This, Not That! Health what they are. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

You are Likely to Feel Fatigue and Headache First

“There is a wide spectrum of clinical manifestations following COVID-19 infections,” explains Dr. Oliveira. Per the CDC, the most common are fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of smell or taste, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. While most people assume that the first sign of COVID-19 involves a change in temperature, there are two other non-specific symptoms that generally present themselves first. 

“Although fever is often thought of as the first manifestation following infection, non-specific symptoms like fatigue and headaches are more likely to be reported before fevers,” reveals Dr. Oliveira. 

These symptoms result from the immune system's initial activation, “much like what has been reported to occur following immunization,” he explains. So, while fever, or temperatures above 100.4 °F occurs in approximately half of the COVID-19 cases, they can trail non-specific symptoms by one to two days. 

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

How to Stay Healthy During the Pandemic

Due to the fact that asymptomatic spread is a common characteristic of COVID, taking precaution even when you feel healthy is crucial in order to prevent the spread of the virus. So follow Dr. Anthony 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