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Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID, According to a New Study

Post-COVID Syndrome may last long after the virus has left your body. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek
Woman having throat ache

When you get the flu, you either beat it or, heaven forbid, die from it. When you get coronavirus, the same is true—except it might also scar your lungs, rewire your brain and cause lasting, long-term damage that could ruin your life. Those who suffer from this are called "long-haulers" and they have what's called Post-COVID Syndrome or Long COVID. "We are learning that many organs besides the lungs are affected by COVID-19 and there are many ways the infection can affect someone's health," says the CDC. According to a recent study in The BMJ, in which researchers followed 384 patients (mean age 59.9 years; 62% male) a median 54 days post discharge, the common symptoms can vary, with a few key ones most common. Read on to see if you might have Long COVID—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

1

You May Suffer Fatigue

Woman suffering from cold, virus lying on the sofa under the blanket
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69% reported this symptom

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said Post-COVID Syndrome resembles Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis. "This is a phenomenon that is really quite real and quite extensive," Dr. Fauci has said. The primary symptom of CFE/ME is, naturally, fatigue, but also includes migraines and body aches—and it can be a never-ending cycle. You might feel 80% yourself one day and then, after some mild exercise, fall back. "People with ME/CFS often describe this experience as a 'crash,' 'relapse,' or 'collapse.'" according to the CDC.

2

You May Experience Persistent Breathlessness

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53% reported this symptom

Since COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, shortness of breath is a hallmark symptom and can last long after the virus has left the body. "In those with persistent breathlessness, patients assessed earlier post discharge tended to have higher breathlessness scores, suggesting a trend to improvement over time," say the study's authors.

3

You May Have a Cough

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34% reported this symptom

A cough—usually dry—is one of the CDC's core COVID symptoms. Is it allergies? A cold? If yours is persistent, it might be the result of COVID. Get a test.

4

You May Have Depression

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14.6%  reported this symptom 

Long COVID sufferers often feel like the life "they had"—before they got sick—may never come back. It may or may not, but it will certainly take a while. Scientists are still at the tip of the iceberg in finding a cure. "We need to dig in and do the work that needs to be done to help relieve the suffering and stop this madness," said Dr. Michael Saag, an infectious disease expert from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who was a co-chair of the government's first workshop dedicated to long-term Covid-19, according to the New York Times.

5

You May Have Poor Sleep Quality

Middle aged woman lying awake in her bed at night, worrying because of an uncomfortable pressure in her chest and an irregular heartbeat
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COVID can cause insomnia, vivid dreams and nightmares and hallucinations. "Several mysteries of how COVID-19 works converge on the question of how the disease affects our sleep, and how our sleep affects the disease," reports the Atlantic. "The virus is capable of altering the delicate processes within our nervous system, in many cases in unpredictable ways, sometimes creating long-term symptoms. Better appreciating the ties between immunity and the nervous system could be central to understanding COVID-19—and to preventing it."

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said When We'd Be Back to "Normal"

6

You May Have Abnormal Biomarkers

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"In those discharged with elevated biomarkers, 30.1% and 9.5% had persistently elevated d-dimer and C reactive protein, respectively. 38% of chest radiographs remained abnormal with 9% deteriorating," said the authors. "Systematic follow-up after hospitalization with COVID-19 identifies the trajectory of physical and psychological symptom burden, recovery of blood biomarkers and imaging which could be used to inform the need for rehabilitation and/or further investigation." In layman's terms, this means you consider getting blood work done if you feel you have Post-COVID syndrome. You should also ask your doctor for an antibody test.

7

How to Survive This Pandemic

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Seek medical attention if you suffer from the symptoms mentioned here. And follow 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.