With more than 4,000 Americans now dying daily from coronavirus, you are right to do everything you can to avoid catching it. One way to protect yourself—and others—is to know the signs that you may have it. Signs and symptoms "may appear two to 14 days after exposure," reports the Mayo Clinic, the nonprofit American academic medical center focused on integrated health care, education, and research. "This time after exposure and before having symptoms is called the incubation period. Common signs and symptoms can include" the following—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 a Fever
"Usually"—but not always—"it's associated with a fever," says Clayton Cowl, M.D., Preventive, Occupational and Aerospace Medicine, Mayo Clinic, about COVID-19. "Sometimes it's low-grade from 100.3 F to perhaps higher. Some people experience much higher fever that go up to 102 F or 103F. Individuals may experience some shortness of breath."
You May Develop a Cough
You "may experience cough," says Dr. Cowl. "And it can either be a dry cough, or they may cough up phlegm."
You May Have Tiredness
"Symptoms of COVID-19 are typically myalgia, or muscle aches, and a lot of fatigue," says Dr. Cowl. If you feel crushing fatigue long after you've had COVID, you might have Post-COVID Syndrome; the hallmark symptom is fatigue.
An Early Symptom May Be a Loss of Taste or Smell
"It is estimated that between 40 and 60 percent of COVID patients experience anosmia"—that's a new loss of your sense of taste—"during the acute or initial presentation of COVID. Of them, about 5 percent have persistent anosmia after three months," reports the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, quoting Jay Piccirillo, MD. "Without the sense of smell, patients are unable to distinguish the differences in food or flowers, for example. They also become unable to detect toxic odors and chemicals."
You Might Have Shortness of Breath or Difficulty Breathing
"If you're going up the stairs for a few floors and you feel lack of air, now that might not be shortness of breath," explains Javier Pérez-Fernández, M.D., pulmonologist and critical care director at Baptist Hospital of Miami. "It just might be that you're out of shape. But if you go from your living room to your kitchen to get a glass of water, and then suddenly you experience shortness of breath which you may not have had before, then this is a big indicator that you may need medical attention."
You Could Have Muscle Aches
Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres had aches when she suffered from coronavirus. "The first three days I slept for 16 hours a day, and then on the fourth day I woke up with back spasms," she told her audience on her first new show of 2021. "I thought I had pulled a muscle or slept weird because I was in a different bed, but it just persisted." Originally, she called the pain "excruciating."
You Might Have Chills
"Your body mounts a fever to fight off an infection, whether it is from the new coronavirus or another virus or bacteria. In order to reset the body's internal temperature, the body begins a series of steps," according to the Health department at the University of Utah. "Among them, blood flows from your extremities toward your core, heart, and brain to preserve heat and increase temperature above the normal 98.6° F." "Rigor is a sudden feeling of cold with shivering accompanied by a rise in temperature," says Emily Spivak, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at University of Utah Health. "A true rigor is unlikely to happen without a fever."
You Could Feel a Sore Throat
How do you know if your sore throat isn't just a bacterial infection? "For starters, a sore throat caused by viral pharyngitis is usually accompanied by other symptoms. These symptoms include a runny nose, a cough, watery eyes and sneezing," says Go Health Urgent Care. "On the other hand, a sore throat caused by bacterial pharyngitis is not accompanied by those symptoms. Bacterial pharyngitis typically only causes a sore throat, exudate (white spots') on the tonsils, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and a fever."
You Might Get a Runny Nose
"With mild COVID-19, which happens in at least 80% of people, symptoms can include a runny nose," advises WebMD. "During this outbreak, it's best to assume any symptoms could be COVID-19 and isolate yourself from others."
You Might Feel a Headache
A COVID-19 headache can feel like a jackhammer. "COVID‐19 has been initially characterized by respiratory manifestations. Neurologic manifestations are being increasingly recognized as a part of the disease spectrum that affects both the central nervous system as well as the peripheral nervous system," reports Headache Journal. "Headache has been reported to be present in many patients of COVID‐19 with or without other neurological symptoms…."
You Might Have Chest Pain
Your chest pain may be myalgia—or a heart issue. "In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the disease was recognized as a respiratory virus. Research is showing that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is causing more significant cardiac issues than initially thought," reports the Mayo Clinic. "We are finding that COVID-19 can cause direct damage to the heart," says Dr. Leslie Cooper, chair of the Department of Cardiology at Mayo Clinic.
You Might Get Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)
"The American Academy of Ophthalmology notes that while the coronavirus may cause pink eye in rare cases (experts believe it develops in just 1 percent to 3 percent of people with the disease), it doesn't appear to be a stand-alone symptom of COVID-19," according to the University of Utah.
You Might Have a Rash, Nausea, Vomiting and Diarrhea
"This list is not all inclusive," says the Mayo Clinic. "Other less common symptoms have been reported, such as rash, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Children have similar symptoms to adults and generally have mild illness."
There Are Other Symptoms of COVID—or You May Have COVID and Show No Symptoms
"The severity of COVID-19 symptoms can range from very mild to severe," says the Mayo Clinic. "Some people may have only a few symptoms, and some people may have no symptoms at all. Some people may experience worsened symptoms, such as worsened shortness of breath and pneumonia, about a week after symptoms start."
What to Do If You Think You Have COVID-19
"Dr. Cowl emphasizes that if you think you may have COVID-19, call your healthcare provider first, rather than showing up without warning," says the Mayo Clinic. "But if you experience more severe symptoms, seek emergency medical care. Emergency symptoms include:
Bluish lips or face." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.