What Are Some of the Common Symptoms of COVID-19?
Researchers continue to study COVID-19, the coronavirus that began to strike in earnest after it first appeared in late 2019. Based on what researchers have learned about COVID-19, early symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after being exposed. There are a wide range of symptoms reported – from mild to severe illness.
Common signs and symptoms of COVID-19 to watch for include:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
If you think you might have COVID-19 and your symptoms are relatively mild, your best course of action is to stay home and separate yourself as much as possible from others in your household, including pets. Be sure to inform anyone you recently had close contact with that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and should quarantine for 14 days. The virus can spread up to 48 hours before symptoms first appear.
COVID-19 and Dry Cough
A common symptom of COVID-19 is a dry cough, which is also known as an unproductive cough (a cough that doesn’t produce any phlegm or mucus). Most people with dry cough experience it as a tickle in their throat or as irritation in their lungs. A dry cough caused by COVID-19 is typically deep and low, occurring at the bottom of the lungs. Often, people don’t feel relief after dry coughing.
When to Worry About Your Dry Cough
While dry cough is a prevalent COVID-19 symptom, it can also be caused by asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease, postnasal drip, or a different viral infection like bronchitis. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the other symptoms you’re experiencing to help differentiate the cause.
Does COVID-19 Cause Fever & Chills?
An analysis published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that, among the cases studied, 79.43% of adult COVID-19 patients and 45.86% of pediatric COVID-19 patients experienced a fever as one of their symptoms.
For those with COVID-19 or any other kind of infection (like the flu), chills often coincide with fever. But why does that happen? Why do we vacillate between burning up with fever and shivering with chills? This is another physiological response. To fight infection, the body must raise its internal temperature, as most viruses and bacteria cannot survive above a normal body temperature (98.6°, or close to that). Your body now has a new internal set point and being below that will make you feel cold. Thus, you’ll experience the shivering and trembling of chills as your body tries to generate enough heat to meet this new temperature goal. Once it reaches it, you will no longer feel cold—rather, you’ll experience the burning-up feeling of fever.
If you suspect you have COVID-19, be on the lookout for other symptoms and visit a PhysicianOne Urgent Care center near you for safe, quick testing.
Why Do We Get Chills with a Fever?
Chills often accompany fevers because to fight an infection, your body must raise its internal temperature, as most viruses and bacteria cannot survive above a normal body temperature (around 98.6°). Your body now has a new internal set point and being below that will make you feel cold. Thus, you’ll experience the shivering and trembling of chills as your body tries to generate enough heat to meet this new temperature goal. Once it reaches it, you will no longer feel cold, and will instead experience the burning-up feeling of a fever.
COVID-19 & Headaches
It’s not uncommon for a virus to cause headache symptoms – fighting an infection is a lot of work for your body! As your body mounts its immune response, your immune cells release cytokines, which are small proteins that can cause inflammation in the body. Among the many COVID-19 symptoms, headaches may be the one we’re most likely to attribute to other causes, like having a fever, not sleeping well, and not drinking enough water. But having a headache – while not the most common COVID-19 symptom – shouldn’t be ignored. That’s because a headache can be one of the first signs of this virus, even before fever and cough.
What Does a COVID-19 Headache Feel Like?
A headache from COVID-19 can present differently than a migraine or tension headache. Researchers have discovered that some of the prominent features of a COVID-19 headache include:
- Having a pulsing, pressing, or stabbing sensation
- Occurring bilaterally (across the whole head)
- Presenting with severe pressure that won’t respond to typical pain relievers, like ibuprofen and acetaminophen
- Lasting for longer than three days
COVID-19 & Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath is another common symptom of COVID-19, and an individual experiencing it may feel as if they can’t breathe deeply or catch their breath. It can be mild or severe, with some COVID-19 patients able to recover at home while others may need oxygen therapy or medical ventilation in a hospital setting.
What Causes Shortness of Breath in COVID-19 Patients?
In a healthy individual, taking a deep breath allows the lungs to take in oxygen. Tiny air sacs called alveoli will then capture this oxygen so it can be delivered to nearby blood vessels, enter the bloodstream, and reach other areas of the body.
In a person with COVID-19, this oxygen transfer process is disrupted. That’s because as the virus spreads throughout the body, it triggers white blood cells to release cytokines, inflammatory proteins that fight the virus. This battle between COVID-19 and your immune system affects the regular transfer of gas (like oxygen) and leaves behind excess fluid and dead cell debris that build up in the lungs and makes it harder to breathe.
Can COVID Cause Gastrointestinal Distress (Diarrhea)?
Diarrhea is the body’s way of quickly disposing of viruses, bacteria, and toxins from the digestive tract. In fact, a study reported in The American Journal of Gastroenterology found that diarrhea was the first and only COVID-19 symptom experienced by some patients. If you’re experiencing diarrhea after being in contact with someone with a known case of COVID-19, then you may want to get tested to be sure your gastrointestinal symptoms aren’t caused by COVID-19.
Visit PhysicianOne Urgent Care for Rapid PCR Testing to Get Treatment Options Faster
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