Why You Should Take Symptoms of COVID-19 Seriously, Even If You're Not Running a Fever

Dominique Michelle Astorino
·2 mins read
Young woman sick at home.
Young woman sick at home.

If you've read much about COVID-19, you know that fever, cough, and shortness of breath are hallmarks of the disease. But while many people will run a fever - for as long as a week or more - it's possible to contract the virus and never see a spike in your temperature.

"You can definitely have COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, without fever," David Cutler, MD, a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, told POPSUGAR. In fact, many people who are infected experience no symptoms at all, while many others have only mild symptoms, which may or may not include a fever.

Natasha Bhuyan, MD, a family practitioner and regional medical director of One Medical, explained that most patients do run a fever, but it's hard to nail down an accurate statistic. "Research of laboratory confirmed cases shows that 88 percent of patients with COVID-19 have a fever; however, that number might not be accurate," Dr. Bhuyan said. "We know there are many mild cases of COVID-19 that are never confirmed with testing, since the person may not seek medical care and recover on their own. As a result, the number of people with COVID-19 who have a fever might be lower than 88 percent."

Related: Doctors Explain How Long You Can Expect to Experience Symptoms of COVID-19

While it's unclear why some people never run a fever - or develop one later in the course of the virus - it's important to recognize that you can be infected and even contagious without it. If you're experiencing other symptoms of COVID-19, call your doctor, who can help you determine your next steps and serve as a resource as you recover. And if you do test positive for COVID-19, here are expert tips on how to take care of yourself at home.

Remember, even if you have no symptoms, you should continue to follow best practices like social distancing and wearing a cloth mask in public. Those who are asymptomatic can unknowingly contribute to the spread of the virus. "This is one reason the disease travels so fast and so far," Dr. Cutler said.

POPSUGAR aims to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since publication. For the latest information on COVID-19, please check out resources from the WHO, CDC, and local public health departments.