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Subtle Signs You've Already Had COVID

COVID symptoms to be aware of, according to doctors. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

If you've experienced cold or flu-like symptoms in the last couple of years, there's a high possibility you had COVID or one of the variants. "There can always be some doubt as to whether someone really had COVID-19 unless one gets a positive PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test though there are ways to know that one could have possibly had COVID-19,"  Erica Susky, an Infection Control Practitioner (ICP) in hospital epidemiology tells Eat This, Not That! Health. "If one was exposed to someone else that had COVID-19 and later developed symptoms, there is also a good chance they acquired it. Another way to ascertain the chances of having had COVID-19 is if one had COVID-19-like symptoms amidst a COVID-19 surge. For example, December 2021 through to January 2022 Omicron was widely circulating with an immense increase of COVID-19 cases. If one got ill during this period, there was a much greater chance that it could have been COVID-19."  We talked to experts who explain signs of COVID to watch out for and what to know about COVID right now. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Brain Fog

Woman hands on his head felling headache dizzy sense of spinning dizziness with motion

Dr. Thomas Gut, D.O., Associate Chair of Medicine at Staten Island University Hospital shares, "Sudden onset of brain fog or difficulty finding words after having a recent flu-like illness. This is a common feature and presentation of Long COVID syndrome and typically lasts for 3 months since infection."


Trouble Sleeping

woman annoyed having an unrestful sleep due to bad mattress

"Difficulty falling asleep after recently recovering from a flu-like illness," Dr. Gut explains is also a sign you've had COVID. "Also, a common feature associated with Long COVID syndrome. Usually persists even after other symptoms that can keep you up at night have gone away."


Loss of Smell

woman trying to sense smell of half fresh orange, has symptoms of Covid-19

According to Dr. Gut, "Lost sense of smell or mistaken sense of smell. It's common with strains prior to Omicron to lose your sense of smell during the early part of COVID infection. Some people have congestion and may not notice that their smell or taste has disappeared until after many of the early infection symptoms have disappeared." 


G.I. Symptoms

Woman lying on bed and holding hands on her stomach.

Susky says, "Gastrointestinal symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Respiratory viruses, like influenza and SARS-CoV-2, can also cause gastrointestinal upset," has been reported in many patients." 

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Other Signs


Dr. Vivek Cherian, a Chicago based internal medicine physician shares, "It's important to note that there are no definite signs or symptoms that you may have had COVID in the past, but if you've had a COVID infection at some point over the past two years you may have had some of the following:

-Developing a fever before having other symptoms such as a cough or shortness of breath.

-Having eye symptoms such as pink eye, dry eyes, or excessive tearing. The reason for this is that COVID enters our cells through receptors for the ACE2 enzyme which can be found in various parts of our eyes among other places such as the heart, kidney and lungs." 

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What to Know About COVID Right Now

Nurse holding syringe

Susky reminds us, "Though public health restrictions are easing in many places, and the overall global number of new COVID-19 is decreasing, the pandemic is not over. Certain areas are experiencing increased COVID-19 cases with the further risk of creating strain on healthcare systems, and new variants are likely to continue."

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How to Stay Safe Out There


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.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather