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Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID, According to Doctor

Are you a long hauler?
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek
Young woman sitting on a couch, holding her head, having a strong headache. Close up Portrait of young woman with headache.

A few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, health experts started noticing that some of those infected with the virus weren't making a complete recovery. Furthermore, many of those whose initially infections were mild to moderate were still experiencing debilitating COVID-like symptoms months after their initial infection. These people are known as "long haulers" and their condition "long hauler syndrome" or long COVID. How do you know if you fall into this category? Shawn Nasseri, MD, Mayo Clinic trained Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon, reveals to Eat This, Not That! Health all of the symptoms you need to look out for. Read on to find out what the symptoms are—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus


You May Have Extreme Fatigue

Depressed young woman sitting on floor at home

Are you feeling more exhausted than usual—to the point it is nearly impossible to work or perform normal tasks? It could be a sign of long COVID, according to Dr. Nasseri. "The feeling of extreme fatigue is the most significant symptom and having difficulty engaging in daily activities," he explains. "This can also be coupled with shortness of breath or difficulty breathing."

"Long Hauler syndrome consists of prolonged post-viral symptoms that continue to occur after you have contracted COVID. This can occur after not having a full recovery or a part of the virus still remaining in your body, even though the virus has passed," he explains.


You May Have Body Aches

Woman rubbing aching back

If you have been feeling unusually achy, it may be a result of COVID. "If muscles continue to be inflamed people can experience body aches and chills in their upper-body, back and legs," explains Dr. Nasseri.  


You May Have Brain Fog


The term "brain fog" has become quite mainstream as a result of the COVID pandemic. "Brain fog can range anywhere from the inability to focus, confusion, and forgetfulness," Dr. Nasseri explains. "After COVID, as our immune system tries to reactivate, it can impact our nerve system, creating brain fog and neurological issues."   


You May Have a Loss of Sense of Taste or Smell

Portrait of young woman smelling a fresh and sweet nectarine

Loss of taste or smell can take three to six weeks to return, but for long haulers it can last much longer. "Those who are still experiencing it after six weeks will likely need help to return it," says Dr. Nasseri. So what is the relationship between the loss of these senses and COVID? He explains that in the nose there are about 10,000 old factory cells. "They plug in from your nose directly into the old factory bulb in the front of your brain," he says. "When you get viruses like COVID-19 it doesn't affect old factory cells but does affect the support cells in between, the sustentacular cells. Those support cells have the ACE receptor on them and that is how COVID gets access to those cells and then propagates in those cells and you lose them. The mechanism is more clearly known now that you lose smell and taste because 90% of taste is smell and people are losing sustentacular cells." 


You May Have Headaches

Sick woman suffering from head ache

Headaches can linger and cause severe pressure pain throughout the whole head, and are a sign of long COVID. "The virus can trigger the nerve ending in the nasal cavity which results in a migraine-type headache," says Dr. Nasseri. 


You May Start Coughing


A dry cough is an initial symptom of COVID. A lingering cough is a sign you might have long COVID. "Due to COVID being a respiratory illness, you may experience a slight itch in your throat, that is causing you to have a persistent cough," Dr. Nasseri explains.  

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Do Your Part in Ending the Pandemic

woman puts on face mask

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.