The coronavirus doesn’t always shout when it invades your body; sometimes, it whispers. In fact, experts believe that 40% to 80% of people infected with the novel coronavirus show no symptoms at all, and up to half of the infections are due to asymptomatic transmission—higher than those experts originally thought at the beginning of the pandemic. Your symptoms may be mild or easily confused with stress or allergies. It’s important to be on guard for these 11 signals, so you can take care of yourself properly and prevent others from becoming infected. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
Tiredness is common when recovering from illness, and people who have COVID have reported fatigue that can range from mild to crushing and can last for weeks or months. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, likened the phenomenon to chronic fatigue syndrome. “We’re starting to see more and more people who apparently recover from the actual viral part of it, and then weeks later, they feel weak, they feel tired, they feel sluggish, they feel short of breath,” he said on Aug. 13. “It’s very disturbing, because if this is true for a lot of people, then just recovering from this may not be okay. You may have weeks where you feel not exactly correct.”
This condition, in which the communication system between the brain and nerves go haywire, has been reported by some COVID patients during recovery. The symptoms can include problems with breathing, sleep and digestion; migraine headaches, numbness in the feet and hands, a feeling of sensory overload, and anxiety-inducing periods of shortness of breath and increased heart rate.
It’s been widely reported that COVID can cause heart inflammation, but it’s also related to another kind of chest pain, which can seem no less frightening and can be long-lasting. Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects ribs to the breastbone; sometimes swelling can accompany the pain, which is called Tietze syndrome.
If you suddenly feel dizzy, lightheaded or faint when moving from a sitting to a standing position, it could be a sign that you have COVID—or have already recovered from it. Some COVID patients have reported that symptom, which is officially known as orthostatic tachycardia, a sharp rise in heart rate when you stand up.
Confusion or the inability to concentrate has been commonly reported by people with COVID. In August, a study published in the Lancet found than 55% of people diagnosed with coronavirus have neurological symptoms three months after their diagnosis. It’s being called “COVID fog,” which “reflect[s] a growing consensus that the disease can have lasting impact on the brain,” STAT News reported.
If your hair seems to be falling out, it could be COVID. Many people have begun to report this symptom, which experts believe is a type of shedding known as telogen effluvium. It occurs all over the head and can be caused by stress, fever, illness, or weight loss of 20 pounds or more—all of which can happen during a bout with the coronavirus. (Luckily, the fallout is temporary.)
Muscles can become inflamed during any illness, and lingering muscle pain has been frequently reported in cases of COVID, which causes inflammation throughout the body. “By and large, pains caused by our adaptive immune response persist for about two weeks,” reports The Ladders.
In some cases of COVID-19, the virus seems to cause eye issues, including dry, red, or itchy eyes or conjunctivitis (a.k.a. pink eye). Those symptoms can also include enlarged blood vessels, swollen eyelids, excessive watering and increased discharge, says the Mayo Clinic. And it’s quite common: According to a study in JAMA Ophthalmology, about one-third of hospitalized COVID-19 patients reported eye problems.
Many people report that their coronavirus infection came with skin changes, such as a red, bumpy rash; hives; or breakouts resembling chickenpox or measles. According to the COVID Symptom Study, it happens in up to 20% of cases. The rash could also look like small blisters, symmetric bumps, hives or painful changes on the hands and feet (“COVID toes”).
According to the CDC, some people with COVID-19 have gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and nausea before they develop any of the hallmark signs of coronavirus (coughing, fever). A study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology found that up to half of people diagnosed with COVID had one of those symptoms.
If you had a prolonged period of having a runny nose, dry cough or congestion, it may not have been your usual hay fever. Those are three of the hallmark signs of COVID-19, and especially this time of year, they can be confused with seasonal allergies.
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.