Signs and Symptoms of Coronavirus

COVID-19 is a respiratory condition caused by a coronavirus. Some people are infected but don’t notice any symptoms. Most people will have mild symptoms and get better on their own. But about 1 in 6 will have severe problems, such as trouble breathing. The odds of more serious symptoms are higher if you’re older or have another health condition like diabetes or asthma.

Here’s what to look for if you think you might have COVID-19.

Common Symptoms

Common symptoms, which most often begin 2 to 14 days after you come into contact with the virus, include:

Other symptoms may include:

If you have any of these symptoms, isolate yourself. This means staying away from other people as much as possible, even members of your family. Stay in a specific “sick room,” and use a separate bathroom if you can. If you have symptoms and are at high risk of complications because of your age or other health conditions, call your doctor in addition to isolating yourself.

Serious Symptoms

Call a doctor or hospital right away if you have one or more of these COVID-19 symptoms:

You need medical care as soon as possible. Call your doctor’s office or hospital before you go in. This will help them prepare to treat you and protect medical staff and other patients.

Lab tests can tell if COVID-19 is what’s causing your symptoms. But the tests can be hard to find, and there’s no treatment if you do have the disease. So you don’t need to get tested if you have no symptoms or only mild ones. Call your doctor or your local health department if you have questions.

How to Check for Fever

Your regular body temperature may be higher or lower than someone else’s. It also changes throughout the day. Doctors generally consider a fever in an adult to be anything over 100.4 F on an oral thermometer and over 100.8 F on a rectal thermometer.

If you think you’ve come into contact with the virus, or if you have symptoms, isolate yourself and check your temperature every morning and evening for at least 14 days. Keep track of the readings. A fever is the most common symptom of COVID-19, but it’s sometimes below 100 F.

Continued

What Kind of Cough Is Common?

Early studies have found that at least 60% of people with COVID-19 have a dry cough. About a third have a cough with mucus, called a “wet” or “productive” cough.

What Does Shortness of Breath Feel Like?

Dyspnea is the word doctors use for shortness of breath. It can feel like you:

  • Have tightness in your chest
  • Can’t catch your breath
  • Can’t get enough air into your lungs
  • Can’t breathe deeply
  • Are smothering, drowning, or suffocating
  • Have to work harder than usual to breathe in or out
  • Need to breathe in before you’re done breathing out

Rare COVID-19 Symptoms

It’s rare, but COVID-19 can also cause problems beyond your lungs. These may include:

Is It COVID-19, the Flu, a Cold, or Allergies?

Since they share so many symptoms, it can be hard to know which condition you have. But there are a few guidelines that can help.

You may have COVID-19 if you have a fever and trouble breathing, along with the symptoms listed above.

If you don’t have problems breathing, it might be the flu. You should still isolate yourself just in case.

It’s probably allergies if you don’t have a fever but your eyes are itchy, you’re sneezing, and you have a runny nose.

If you don’t have a fever and your eyes aren’t itchy, it’s probably a cold.

How to Protect Yourself

Take these steps to prevent COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often, for at least 20 seconds each time, with soap and water.
  • Use an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if you don't have to soap and water handy.
  • Avoid people who are sick.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you’ve just washed your hands.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that you touch a lot.

 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on April 02, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

World Health Organization: “Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19),” “Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).”

CDC: “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and you,” “Symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019,” “Symptoms,” “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).”

University of Alabama at Birmingham: “Sorting out symptoms of COVID-19, influenza, colds and allergies.”

UpToDate: “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).”

Merck Manual Consumer Version: “Fever in Adults,” “Shortness of Breath.”

Loma Linda University Health: “Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).”

American Society of Clinical Oncology: “Shortness of Breath or Dyspnea.”

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Shortness of Breath.”

American Academy of Ophthalmology: “Coronavirus Eye Safety.”

The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology: “Liver injury in COVID-19: management and challenges.”

 

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination