Skip to content

Warning Signs You Have COVID Now, According to the CDC

These emergency warning signs should have you seeking medical care immediately.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek
Woman having chest pain and coughing while lying down on sofa at home.

You might know some of the more common symptoms of coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists a fever or chills, a cough and shortness of breath among them. But did you know there are "emergency warning signs" you should also watch for—ones that could make the difference between life or death? "If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately," says the CDC, which has been at the forefront of the pandemic. Read on to see the symptoms—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

1

You May Have "Trouble Breathing"

Woman suffering an anxiety attack alone in the night
iStock

If you cannot breathe, obviously seek medical care immediately, as breath is life. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has warned of "people who have serious lung involvement that either puts them in the hospital or creates intubation needs and intensive care…to people who die."

2

You May Have "Persistent Pain or Pressure in the Chest"

Man having a chest pain and wearing a protection mask.
iStock

Persistent chest pain could be angina, defined by the American Heart Association as "chest pain or discomfort caused when your heart muscle doesn't get enough oxygen-rich blood. It may feel like pressure or squeezing in your chest. The discomfort also can occur in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. Angina pain may even feel like indigestion." It could also be the result of you struggling to breathe, as COVID can cause your lungs to malfunction. Because COVID causes an inflammatory reaction, your chest pain may also be costochondritis, an inflammation in your cartilage that can feel like a heart attack.

3

You May Have "New Confusion"

Melancholy woman resting at the terrace
iStock

Since COVID can attack the brain, it's important to check for neurological symptoms, which may also be caused by an alarming lack of oxygen. "If a person is confused," says the UK's National Health Service, which has been at the forefront of the pandemic, "they may:

  • not be able to think or speak clearly or quickly
  • not know where they are (feel disorientated)
  • struggle to pay attention or remember things
  • see or hear things that aren't there (hallucinations)"

Some patients have suffered delirium as a result of COVID-19; others have long-term "brain fog," an inability to concentrate.

4

You Have an "Inability to Wake or Stay Awake"

Depressed young woman lying in bed and feeeling upset.
iStock

You might be unable to wake up because you're not getting enough oxygen—certainly a "warning sign." Your sleep may also be disrupted because COVID has attacked your brain. "In fact, 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: 7 Tips You Must Follow to Avoid COVID, Say Doctors

5

You May Have Bluish Lips or Face

Cyanotic lips or central cyanosis at Southeast Asian, Chinese young man with congenital heart disease.
Shutterstock

"Cyanosis can mean there's not enough oxygen in your blood, or you have poor blood circulation," says the NHS. "It can be caused by a serious problem with the:

  • lungs, like asthma or pneumonia
  • airways like choking or croup
  • heart, like heart failure or congenital heart disease."

Because COVID can affect the lungs and the heart, and thus restrict your oxygen intake, it's important to take bluish lips or face as a serious sign.

6

You Might Experience Less Severe Symptoms, Too

Sick woman with headache sitting under the blanket
Shutterstock

The CDC warns that the list you just read about  "is not all possible symptoms" and advises: "Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19."

In addition, besides those emergency warning signs, the CDC lists the symptoms below saying, "people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19."

7

How to Survive This Pandemic

Young caucasian woman wearing surgical gloves putting face mask on, protection from spread of Coronavirus
Shutterstock

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical care. 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.