COVID-19 is everywhere, but it doesn't always shout to make its presence known. As many as 40% of people infected with the novel coronavirus may never experience symptoms. And because the virus affects such a wide range of body systems—producing everything from headaches to "COVID toes"—those signs can be subtle and easily dismissed as something more minor or a post-holiday hangover. "I think it already is a systemic disease for some people—we're just not recognizing the full implications of the pathogenesis and the clinical manifestations," warns Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Here are five signals that the weird pain you're feeling might be COVID. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
You May Have an Upset Stomach
The daily headlines make many of us queasy. But if you're experiencing stomach issues, it may not be fear or the flu. Tummy troubles can indicate COVID, and they may be the only sign you're infected. A recent review of studies found that one in five COVID-19 patients reported only gastrointestinal symptoms after being infected with the virus, such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
You May Have a Scratchy Throat
A funny feeling at the back of your throat can be easy to dismiss. It can also be a sign of coronavirus. According to the CDC, a sore throat is one of the main symptoms of COVID-19. A European study of 1,420 coronavirus patients found that 53% of them reported a sore throat.
You May Develop Skin Problems
"COVID toes" may seem to be a weird sign of coronavirus, but skin problems are crazy-common: Up to 20% of people with COVID-19 report skin changes, such as a red, bumpy rash; hives; or breakouts resembling chickenpox. Some scientists say skin rashes should be named a key sign of COVID-19, just as likely as fever, cough, or loss of smell or taste.
You May Feel Profound Fatigue
Dealing with tiredness you just can't shake? It may not just be post-holiday stress. Like many viruses, COVID can make you feel run down, even if you don't experience more obvious symptoms of the disease like a fever or cough. Post-COVID fatigue can last for weeks or months.
You May Have Muscle Aches
Feeling like you overdid it at the gym (even though your gym has been closed since March)? Muscles can become inflamed during any illness, leading to soreness. COVID-19 causes inflammation throughout the body, and muscle pain is a commonly reported symptom. About two-thirds of "long-hauling" COVID patients report long-term muscle pain.
How to Survive This Pandemic
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.