Whenever you first heard the news—the President and First Lady have contracted COVID-19—a thousand thoughts may have run through your head, and chances are, one of them was: Wow, this is getting realer and realer every day—what if I catch it, too? “People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported—ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness,” reports the CDC. “Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19.” Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
This has been considered the #1 sign you have coronavirus because it’s so unusual. “For many people, a sudden loss of smell is the first sign that something’s wrong,” reports Discover Magazine. “‘One gentleman said he realized it with hand sanitizer,’ says Carol Yan, a rhinologist at the University of California, San Diego. ‘All of a sudden it was like water to him.’ The loss of smell, or anosmia, is such a common symptom of Covid-19 that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added it to its official list.”
“Fever is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19. However, people with COVID-19 may sometimes have a low-grade fever or no fever at all,” reports St. Jude Hospital. “In general, a fever is considered to be a temperature above 100.4°F (38°C).”
“Cough is present in about half of infected patients,” says ScienceAlert. “Considering that COVID-19 irritates lung tissue, the cough is dry and persistent. It is accompanied with shortness of breath and muscle pain.”
“As the disease progresses, the lung tissue is filled with fluid and you may feel even more short of breath as your body struggles to get enough oxygen,” says ScienceAlert.
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Besides feeling an all-around tiredness and lack of energy, “prolonged fatigue as well as brain fog and other persistent symptoms have been reported in a lot of Covid-19 patients,” John Swartzberg, MD, an infectious disease expert and emeritus professor at the University of California, Berkeley, tells Elemental+. “He says that these post-viral symptoms are typical of chronic fatigue syndrome, an illness that also goes by the name myalgic encephalomyelitis and is often abbreviated ME/CFS.”
“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 the experts at Penn Medicine. “The pain from working out tends to go away after a few hours, but can persist for days with COVID-19,” Richard Watkins, M.D. tells Prevention. This symptom, along with fatigue, can last well after the virus has left your body, accoridng to “long haulers,” those who still have symptoms months after contracting COVID.
“From the most recently available data, it is estimated that headache is a symptom in about 13 percent of patients with COVID-19,” says Dr. Sandhya Mehla, a specialist with the Hartford Healthcare Headache Center. “It is the fifth-most common COVID-19 symptom after fever, cough, muscle aches and trouble breathing,”
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“A sore throat can be a sign of COVID-19, but it’s not common. A study in China reported that only 14 percent of 55,000 patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 experienced a sore throat. 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,” reports MedStar Health.
These can also be signs of the common cold, of course. To be better safe than sorry, contact your medical professional if you experience them.
COVID-19 isn’t just a respiratory virus—it can make you throw up, too. “Failure to recognize these patients early and often may lead to unwitting spread of the disease among outpatients with mild illness, who remain undiagnosed and unaware of their potential to infect others,” said a team from Union Hospital and Tongji Medical College in Wuhan, China, the original epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
“A review of more than 25,000 COVID-19 patients found about 18% had gastrointestinal symptoms. The most common was diarrhea followed by nausea and vomiting. Abdominal pain was considered rare. In another study only about 2% of COVID-19 patients had abdominal pain,” reports MedicalXpress. “Some people believe COVID-19 causes abdominal pain through inflammation of the nerves of the gut. This is a similar way to how gastroenteritis (gastro) causes abdominal pain.”
“Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19,” warns the CDC. “If someone is showing any of” the signs you’re about to read about—keep scrolling through—”seek emergency medical care immediately.”
Shortness of breath is one thing, but if you can’t draw in oxygen, seek immediate medical care. Consider investing in a pulse oximeter to track your blood’s oxygen levels. “An SpO2 of 100% has effectively zero clinical difference to a 96% reading,” reports Houston Methodist. “As a good rule of thumb, a person with COVID-19 monitoring his or her clinical status at home will want to ensure that the SpO2 reading stays consistently at or above 90 to 92%.”
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COVID-19 has now been shown to damage your heart. “A German study found that 78 percent of recovered COVID-19 patients, the majority of whom had only mild to moderate symptoms, demonstrated cardiac involvement more than two months after their initial diagnoses,” reports Scientific American. “Six in 10 were found to have persistent myocardial inflammation.”
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“Physicians around the world have documented neurological symptoms in a significant fraction of Covid-19 patients,” reports Discover Magazine. “Some patients have experienced headaches, dizziness and other relatively minor symptoms, while others have had more serious problems like confusion and impaired movement, and even seizures and strokes.”
If you or anyone you know is experiencing an unusual inability to stay awake and alert, then there may be a neurological problem, or respiratory issue.
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“Bluish discoloration of the skin may signal lack of oxygen in the blood,” reports Healthline. “Cyanosis is the name for poor oxygen circulation in the blood that causes bluish discoloration of the skin. Central cyanosis affects the lips, but it can also affect the tongue and chest. Blue lips may indicate a type of cyanosis caused by lower levels of oxygen in the red blood cells. Blue lips may also represent high levels of an abnormal form of hemoglobin in the bloodstream (similar to bluish discoloration of the skin).”
The CDC hastens to add: “This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. If you experience any of the urgent symptoms, 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.” And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.