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Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID, Say Doctors

The signs of Long COVID are hard to miss but important to know.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The Delta variant of coronavirus is said to make people "sicker, quicker" but what you may not know is that all variants of COVID can make you "sicker, longer." An estimated 10 to 30% of people who get COVID—even a mild case—may develop debilitating symptoms that may never go away. What are they, and how can you make sure you know if you have "Long COVID" or are a "Long Hauler"? Read on for six key symptoms, reported by doctors during a BMJ panel, and how to reduce your risk of getting them—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.

1

You May Feel Severe Fatigue

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Long COVID is "a very bizarre disease, and it affects you in waves," says Paul Garner, professor at the Centre for Evidence Synthesis in Global Health and coordinating editor of the Cochran Infectious Disease Group. He's a long hauler himself. "It's like being battered and you are repeatedly battered over a period of time. And then that was my first two months and the subsequent four months really has been lesser episodes, but still very fatigued." This fatigue can leave many bed-ridden, or make it difficult to do simple chores, or just make your whole body shut down. And it's not just being fatigued. "It is clearly a wide spectrum of conditions and complaints."

2

You May Have a Hard Time Doing Simple Physical Tasks

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"For me, for four months, I was struggling to open the freezer doors and loading the dishwasher," said Nisreen Alwan, associate professor in public health at the University of Southampton who had COVID. "And you feel like you've recovered and he started doing these things on it and it starts all over again. That expectation and the anxiety about the recovery is a big feature." 

3

You May Get "Brain Fog"

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has mentioned brain fog, including "an inability to concentrate," as a common Long COVID symptom. "Partly you're muddled in your own head. You can't read things very well," says Garner.

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4

You May Feel Chest Pressure or Get Rashes

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Symptoms can "include kind of the classical cough, breathlessness of muscle and body aches. But other things like there's this distinctive chest heaviness or pressure that some people, including me, feel," says Alwan, "which is quite, quite concerning. And other things like skin rashes, palpitations, which I felt as well, fever, headache, diarrhea, pins, and needles, a skin rash…."

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5

You May Think You're Getting Better and Then Relapse

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"A very, very common feature is the fluctuation or the relapsing," says Alwan. "You feel you've recovered. And that's my personal experience as well. So many times I feel I recovered and then it hits you back and it's kind of constant cycle of disappointment. Not just to you, but to the people around you. And everybody's like really wanting you to recover, whether it's your family, friends and your people at work because what's happening is, people going back to work a bit and then having to be off sick again, unable to do their daily tasks and chores."

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6

You May Have Anxiety

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"The initial anxiety was I'm only going to die," says Alwan. "And you would go through those first two weeks thinking about that and focusing on your breathing. It's like, why am I not getting better? You know, two weeks, I'm still there."Many have not recovered after a year and a half. "What happens is then you learn your patterns and you learn what actually brings on this other exhaustion and you learn what brings on the other symptoms as well. And you're trying to avoid these things."

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7

Vaccination Should Reduce Your Chances of Bad Long COVID

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A new study "said vaccinations are massively reducing the chances of people getting long COVID," according to Dr. John Campbell, a British virus expert. "Firstly, by reducing the risk of any symptoms by eight to 10 fold, so eight to 10 times less likely to get the virus in the first place. And if you do get it, you're about 50%, 47% less likely. So altogether it is quite a good level of protection." If you think you have Long COVID, talk to your doctor and get vaccinated 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.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more