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Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID, Says Dr. Fauci

What the nation’s leading infectious disease expert says.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts have warned that the coronavirus's effects can last for weeks or months after its first symptoms fade. "Long COVID" is still poorly understood, and it remains a risk even as variants of the virus produce milder initial illness. In fact, long COVID can surface even if your infection was originally asymptomatic. These are some of the sure signs you've already had COVID, which may have turned into long COVID, according to Fauci. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Body Aches

Woman recovering from an illness in bed at home.
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Fauci has said that recurrent body aches, or myalgias, are a common lingering symptom of COVID. They can appear anywhere in the body and may be caused by inflammation produced by the virus. One study of COVID "long haulers" found that 67 percent reported body aches. 

2

Fatigue

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According to a study released earlier this year, as many as 30% of people who've had COVID experience symptoms a full year after diagnosis. Fatigue is the most common. Fauci has previously compared long COVID to chronic fatigue syndrome. "You can see people who've recovered who really do not get back to normal, that they have things that are highly suggestive of myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome," he said.

3

Brain Fog

Woman hands on his head felling headache dizzy sense of spinning dizziness with motion
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In addition to fatigue, Fauci said that long COVID can cause brain fog and difficulty in concentrating. Experts aren't sure why, but a study published this month suggests that the virus may attack the cells lining the brain's blood vessels, causing inflammation and damage. 

4

What Causes Long COVID?

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"We don't know whether it's cause‑effect or just related in a way that might not really be relevant, but we have to pay attention to it," Fauci told the Washington Post earlier this year. Some possibilities: A high viral load may damage the body's tissues, the virus might reactivate previous dormant infections like the Epstein-Barr virus, or the virus may linger in the body in unknown reservoirs, continuing to tax it and cause damage. 

5

How to Reduce Your Risk of Long COVID

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"The data are pretty clear that if you are vaccinated and you get a breakthrough infection, you have less of a risk of getting long COVID than if you are infected not having been vaccinated," said Fauci. "Which is again—yet again—another argument for why it's so important for us to get vaccinated, and when vaccinated, to get boosted."

6

How to Stay Safe Out There

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Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—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.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael