What Is the Difference Between Pre-Symptomatic & Asymptomatic Cases of COVID-19?

April 5, 2022
Woman with COVID-19 symptoms in bed coughing

The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a whole new vocabulary. We’ve all become more familiar with words like incubation, antibodies, and quarantine, but there’s still plenty of confusing terminology out there. For instance, do you know the difference between pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic cases of COVID-19? If not, you’re far from alone. Let’s take a closer look at these two terms and how they may apply to you.

Pre-Symptomatic COVID-19

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory infection that’s caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. As is the case with several other viral infections, a person can test positive for COVID-19 before they begin to develop noticeable symptoms. Research shows that SARS-CoV-2 can take between two and 14 days to cause symptoms after contraction. Individuals in this phase are known to have “pre-symptomatic” COVID-19.

Unfortunately, people with pre-symptomatic COVID-19 are thought to be the most contagious and can unknowingly give this illness to others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that SARS-CoV-2 can spread at least 48 hours before noticeable symptoms appear.

Trying to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 can seem impossible if you don’t even have symptoms and are unaware that you’re sick, but getting vaccinated and being mindful of social distancing guidelines can help slow the spread. It’s also important to promptly get tested and follow quarantine protocols if you’ve been around someone who has received a positive COVID-19 test.

Asymptomatic COVID-19

Asymptomatic COVID-19 is somewhat similar to pre-symptomatic COVID-19, as both of these scenarios involve testing positive without having noticeable symptoms. However, people with asymptomatic COVID-19 never develop symptoms and usually feel perfectly fine throughout the duration of the virus. COVID-19 without symptoms isn’t rare—in fact, several research studies suggest that roughly 30% of cases may be asymptomatic (this rate varies depending on the specific strain of the virus). Research also shows that mild lung damage can occur in asymptomatic patients.

It’s important to remember that asymptomatic individuals can still transmit the disease to others, and those who come into contact with an asymptomatic person should promptly get tested and follow quarantine guidelines until they receive a negative test result.

COVID-19 Testing & Treatment From PhysicianOne Urgent Care

Trying to stay healthy and informed during the COVID-19 pandemic may feel like an impossible task, but PhysicianOne Urgent Care is here to make things a little easier for families in communities throughout Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts. Our network of physician-led urgent care clinics are open 365 days per year and provide easily accessible COVID-19 testing to adults and children. Our team is also pleased to offer telemedicine services that are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week, so patients can chat with a medical professional about their COVID-19 symptoms any time of the day or night.

PhysicianOne Urgent Care is here for your family! Visit one of our convenient locations today, or contact our friendly professionals at 1-860-650-3848 to find answers to any questions you may have.

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I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the attention you gave me last week. My son was started on antibiotics and ear drops. Within 24 hours he began to feel better. The poor kid had been going to school in tears because he was afraid of missing any more days, but feeling (and looking) just awful! He's not been able to even think about lacrosse practice, but thanks to starting him on antibiotics, he was thrilled to return to practice today.
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