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I Caught COVID and Wish Everyone Knew About These Symptoms

Scary COVID symptoms reported by survivors.

It's over two years since the official beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic—and many people have experienced scary virus symptoms. "If you have long COVID symptoms, you should seek care," says Devang Sanghavi, MD. "As we have seen in a lot of these surveys and studies about post-COVID syndrome is that usually this condition doesn't come with just one symptom—there's a cluster of symptoms. Don't label it as post-COVID right away. You want to make sure that it's not something new, and then you obviously want to make sure that your symptoms are addressed, based on the severity." Here are five first-person accounts of COVID-19. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Feverish Nightmares


"The virus unleashed its fury right before my eyes, and it completely crippled the operations of the emergency department," says Louis Philip Rotkowitz, MD, an emergency physician in Queens, New York. "Exhausted, I struggled to maintain my role as team leader. Days later, I began experiencing symptoms after another exhausting overnight shift. By April 1, I was officially offline: SARS-CoV-2 was dismantling my physiology. My quarantine at home began immediately. I had debilitating symptoms the first week that worsened as days passed. My body aches increased every day, and I lost my sense of taste and smell. Sleep offered no relief; even my dreams were filled with feverish nightmares. By the morning of April 8, my oxygen saturation levels were becoming concerning. My breathing was starting to become labored, and my body was experiencing an unprecedented level of stress. Later that morning, a concerned friend came to check on me and found my oxygen saturation level at 78%. I was admitted to NYU Langone Medical Center that afternoon in critical condition, requiring specialized high-velocity nasal insufflation."


Muscle Pain

Mature man with gray hair having back pain while sitting on a couch at home

"Last year, both my wife and I got infected with COVID-19," says Maher Ghafari, from Aleppo, Syria. "Although we did not panic, we felt rather alert and had consciously been prepared for such a scenario. On the first few days, symptoms included the loss of taste and smell as well as muscle pain, which we used pain relief medications to reduce. Thankfully we did not have any respiratory symptoms."


Elevated Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

high blood pressure

"I had an elevated heart rate and my blood pressure was up," says avid cyclist Matt, from Queensland, Australia. "I also started to get a minor headache. Because I do a fair bit of cycling, I like to think I'm pretty aware of my health and I knew something wasn't right. I rang the Queensland Health COVID hotline and they went through the criteria and said that because I'd traveled overseas, they'd test me… My views have changed now, but at the time I thought that most people in my age bracket and my level of health would be fine, so I wasn't too concerned. I was more worried about my partner – I didn't want her getting sick. But now seeing what's happened worldwide and people who have died who are young and fit, it's much more scary."


Trouble Breathing

Senior woman having breathing difficulties

"The entire time in the dorm, I was having extreme difficulty breathing," says Michigan State University student Madison Rose. "I tried to ignore it, but as the night progressed, I was unable to. I was light-headed, confused, and just about gasping for air while trying to complete my Spanish homework that was due the following morning.


Extreme Fatigue

woman feeling sick and seasonal flu symptoms

"Nights in particular were hard with a sense of extreme fatigue and temperature crossing 101 frequently," says Jignesh A. Patel, MD, chief cardiology fellow at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. "On day five, I noticed wheezing and difficulty talking, which progressed quickly over the next two days to shortness of breath and difficulty lying down."


How to Stay Safe Out There

The young girl with medical mask on her face stands on the crowded street.

Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, 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.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan