COVID-19 is infamous for having somewhat strange symptoms (COVID toes, anyone?) or no symptoms at all (up to 40% of people infected with the novel coronavirus may show no signs). But sometimes the virus makes its presence abundantly clear, with telltale symptoms that can be severe and long-lasting. These are seven sure signs you’ve already had coronavirus. If you are experiencing any of them, call your medical professional immediately.
This isn’t just feeling tired at the end of a long workweek—many people with COVID-19 report crushing fatigue and an inability to concentrate that lingers for weeks. “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: Brain fog, fatigue, and difficulty in concentrating,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House coronavirus task force last month. “This is something we really need to seriously look at, because it very well might be a post-viral syndrome associated with COVID-19.”
Andrew Chan, a professor of immunology and infectious disease at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, claims his COVID Symptom Study app has been detecting more cases of raised skin bumps and inflammation on fingers and toes—aka COVID fingers and toes—and that it should be considered a key diagnostic sign of the disease. In fact, many people are experiencing these strange dermatological manifestations in the absence of any other symptoms. Researchers noted three types of rashes, which you can read about here.
A persistent cough with fever is the most common sign of coronavirus. It’s dry, persistent and causes shortness of breath. And like fatigue and breathlessness, the cough can last long after you’ve technically recovered from the virus. According to a July study by the CDC, 43% of people who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 reported their cough hadn’t gone away by 14 to 21 days after they tested positive.
You’ve heard of this one: This curious symptom seems to be a telltale sign of COVID-19 infection (although not everyone experiences it). According to one study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 64% of people with COVID-19 reported a loss of smell or taste. A July CDC survey found that the symptom lasted a median time of eight days, but some are experiencing it for weeks on end.
This is often one of the first signs of COVID-19, and it can linger for weeks or months after recovery. The virus causes lung inflammation and damage that can make it hard to catch your breath, and can lead to pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
According to one study published in JAMA Cardiology, three-quarters of people diagnosed with COVID-19 had evidence of heart damage visible on an MRI weeks after they recovered. (And 18% of people in the study had never shown symptoms of coronavirus.) The virus can cause heart inflammation that can lead to serious conditions such as myocarditis and pericarditis (inflamed tissue that can cause irregular heartbeat and other problems).
“About one-third of coronavirus patients have symptoms that don’t go away, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” reports Deseret News. “The report — which focused on patients who were not hospitalized from the coronavirus — found patients experience symptoms weeks and months after they first tested positive.
- Patients with COVID-19 did not return to their regular level of health within two to three weeks of the diagnosis.
- In fact, 1 in 5 patients have not returned to normal health.
- Lingering symptoms included fatigue, cough, congestion, dyspnea, loss of taste and smell, chest pain and confusion. Other symptoms, like vomiting, nausea, fever and chills, did not last as long.”
These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
Avoid catching COVID-19 in the first place: wear your 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 37 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.