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17 Sure Signs You've Had COVID Already

These long-lasting symptoms can be a sign you’ve lived through COVID but have after-effects.

Still in his first week of having coronavirus, President Donald Trump's doctors described him as being not "out of the woods." The same could be said for thousands of COVID patients who still experience symptoms months after contracting the virus. "A study of 143 people in Rome's biggest hospital, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, followed hospital patients after they were discharged," reports the BBC. "It showed 87% had at least one symptom nearly two months later and more than half still had fatigue." Here is the study's list of symptoms in order from least common to most common—read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.



woman hand flush toilet after using

"Some people with COVID-19 develop gastrointestinal symptoms either alone or with respiratory symptoms," reports Healthline. "Recently, researchers at Stanford University found that a third of patients they studied with a mild case of COVID-19 had symptoms affecting the digestive system. Another recent study published by researchers in Beijing found that anywhere from 3 to 79 percent of people with COVID-19 develop gastrointestinal symptoms."


Muscle Pain

female touching neck and shoulder in pain.

"I think all of us who have had the winter cold or flu have had experience with muscle pain, headache, sore throat," David Aronoff, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center told NPR, and the website continued: "Given that we're no longer in the typical cold and flu season, if you're experiencing muscle pains and other flu-like symptoms, 'we know that those can be associated with COVID-19,' he says. 'And it is very reasonable to get people thinking, you know, maybe I should get tested.'"



Woman suffering from dizziness with difficulty standing up while leaning on wall

"Research published in Annals of Neurology has found that COVID-19 affects the nervous system and can cause a number of neurological symptoms, including dizziness," reports ENT of Georgia. "The authors report that, 'Initially thought to be restricted to the respiratory system, we now understand that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) also involves multiple other organs, including the central and peripheral nervous system. The number of recognized neurologic manifestations of SARS‐CoV‐2 infection is rapidly accumulating.'"

RELATED: Signs COVID-19 is in Your Brain


Lack of Appetite

Displeased young woman doesn't want to eat her breakfast

"When your body is infected by a virus like COVID-19, your appetite can become reduced," explains Dr. Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical Lead at "If this is accompanied by a loss of taste and smell it can make wanting to eat or drink really difficult," he explains. "It's really important to drink plenty of fluids to help your body combat the virus and minimize the symptoms and even if you don't feel like it, try to eat something, even if it's just a snack or a small meal."


Sore Throat

woman with sore throat

"A study in China reported that only 14 percent of 55,000 patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 experienced a sore throat," reports MedStar. "Everyone's body reacts differently to the virus, so while it's possible to have a sore throat as a symptom of COVID-19, it's more likely that you'll have other symptoms."


Sputum Production

Woman sick cold

"Sputum is not saliva but the thick mucus—sometimes called phlegm—which is coughed up from the lungs," reports Medical News Today. "The body produces mucus to keep the thin, delicate tissues of the respiratory tract moist so that small particles of foreign matter that may pose a threat can be trapped and forced out. Sometimes, such as when there is an infection in the lungs, an excess of mucus is produced. The body attempts to get rid of this excess by coughing it up as sputum."



woman in a couch with headache and a hand on forehead

Pulsating headaches are unfortunately not uncommon. "A recent case report describes a female patient with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) who, at the time of publication, has had a headache for 85 straight days, starting shortly after she first became sick," reports the AJMC. "Numerous reports have described how some patients who have had COVID-19 suffer for months with a variety of ailments."

RELATED: 11 Symptoms of COVID You Never Want to Get


Loss of Taste

female cook standing at the hob in her apron tasting her food in the saucepan with a grimace as she finds it distasteful and unpalatable

"It's been a long day, your stomach's rumbling and you've just tucked into your favourite Jamaican dish: you wait for that kick, but nothing, no taste whatsoever. That was the reality for 23-year-old Horcel Kamaha in March when he contracted coronavirus – and his loss of taste would last for three long months," reports the BBC. "Everything that had really strong flavours, I couldn't taste," he says. "I was mostly eating Jamaican food and I couldn't taste it at all, everything tasted like paper or cardboard."


Red Eyes

"According to a press release issued by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, develops in only 1% to 3% of COVID-19 cases. But several things, including allergies, can cause pink eye," reports All About Vision. "If a virus like the one that can lead to COVID-19 causes pink eye, the condition usually starts in one eye and might move to the other eye within a few days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says. Also, discharge from the eye normally is watery, not thick."


Runny Nose

Portrait Of Ill Woman Caught Cold, Feeling Sick And Sneezing In Paper Wipe

A runny nose could be COVID but is more likely to be a cold or allergies. Nonetheless, if you experience one, take precautions.


Sicca Syndrome

Woman with eye problems outside

Sicca Syndrome is "an autoimmune disease, also known as Sjogren syndrome, that classically combines dry eyes, dry mouth, and another disease of connective tissue such as rheumatoid arthritis (most common), lupus, scleroderma or polymyositis," reports MedicineNet. It's an inflammatory issue, like so many of the COVID side effects.

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Says You're Most Likely to Catch COVID Here


Loss of Smell

Portrait of young woman smelling a fresh and sweet nectarine

This can be one of the earliest symptoms of COVID—and can sometimes last for months. "Our findings indicate that the novel coronavirus changes the sense of smell in patients not by directly infecting neurons but by affecting the function of supporting cells," says the author of one study Sandeep Robert Datta, associate professor of neurobiology in the Blavatnik Institute at HMS.




"Early studies have found that at least 60% of people with COVID-19 have a dry cough. About a third have a cough with mucus, called a 'wet' or 'productive' cough," says WebMD.


Chest Pain

african woman feeling menstrual cyclic breast pain, touching her chest,

Chest pain can be an alarming symptom because it could mean any number of things: heart damage, lung damage, costochondritis (an inflammation in the cartilage of the ribs)—all have been reported by long haulers, and all should be taken seriously. 

RELATED: 11 Signs COVID is in Your Heart


Joint Pain

hands of a man making a massage on his knee, pain

"If you're experiencing joint pain, it may be caused by inflammation in your body. Inflammation attacks joint tissues, causing fluid in your joints, swelling, muscle damage, and more," reports Penn Medicine. "There are a few ways to manage inflammation in your joints from home. Just remember the useful acronym, R.I.C.E.: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. For example, if your knee joint is in pain, you can wrap your knee to reduce swelling (compression), use an ice pack over the wrap to numb the pain (ice), while elevating your leg on the couch (elevation and rest)."


Shortness of Breath

Young man having asthma attack at home

"For some who recover from COVID-19, symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle pain, confusion, headaches and even hallucinations are among the growing number of issues survivors face following the illness," reports Hackensack Meridian Health. "Individuals recovering from COVID-19 may struggle with a number of respiratory, cardiac and kidney problems," warns Laurie Jacobs, M.D., chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center. "They also have an increased risk of blood clots, which can potentially lead to a stroke or heart attack."



Tired woman with closed eyes leaning over coach at home

"Over the past nine months, an increasing number of people have reported crippling exhaustion and malaise after having the virus," reports Nature. "They struggle to get out of bed, or to work for more than a few minutes or hours at a time. One study of 143 people with COVID-19 discharged from a hospital in Rome found that 53% had reported fatigue and 43% had shortness of breath an average of 2 months after their symptoms started." If you've experience any of the symptoms mentioned, call a medical professional, and try not to get COVID in the first place: to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss 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 about Alek