As COVID-19 spreads rapidly through Michigan’s population, many people are keeping a close eye on potential symptoms of the virus.
The fact is, coronavirus manifests in different ways in different people. Even doctors say they typically need to run a lab test to diagnose whether someone has coronavirus or the flu.
Coronavirus symptoms can appear two to 14 days after exposure, and the average incubation period is about four to five days.
And recognize, coronavirus patients are most contagious 72 to 48 hours before they experience symptoms. That means you could easily be exposed to the virus even if you weren’t near someone while they were sick, and you can expose others before you’re symptomatic.
Below are the symptoms to watch for.
- Fever. Fever is a common symptom of coronavirus, and often one of the first indicators of infection. But it’s possible to have coronavirus with no fever, or a very low-grade one, especially in the first few days. About 55% of coronavirus patients with symptoms have a fever, according to Medical News Today.
- Dry cough. Coughs caused by coronavirus are typically dry and persistent, and can leave you short of breath. About 60% of patients with symptoms have a cough.
- Fatigue. Fatigue appears to be the most common early symptom of coronavirus, with about 68% of patients reporting that symptom. It also may be one of the longest-lasting symptoms. More than half of people who recover from COVID-19 still report fatigue 10 weeks later, regardless of the seriousness of their initial infection, according to a study published Nov. 9.
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. About 40% of coronavirus patients with symptoms develop shortness of breath or breathing issues, and this is a symptom to monitor carefully since can be a sign that the patient has developed pneumonia. According to clinical studies, breathlessness develops on average between day 5 and day 8 of symptoms. Life-threatening breathlessness can happen at any point during the course of COVID-19 and requires immediate medical attention.
- Loss of smell and taste. One of the telltale signs of coronavirus is loss of smell and taste, experienced by about two-thirds of coronavirus patients. Like fatigue, it can be one of the first signs of the virus and one of the longest lasting. About one of five coronavirus patients with symptoms still had altered smell when surveyed two and a half to six months after their initial illness, according to a University of Michigan study.
- Muscle aches. Almost half of coronavirus patients experience muscle pain, which are likely the result of immune cells releasing infection-fighting proteins called interleukins. Some patients report severe joint and body pain, particularly in large muscles.
- Headache. Headache can be one of the first signs of coronavirus, and the headaches can be severe. In some people, the headaches last a few days, while in others, it can last up to months.
- Sore throat and/or runny nose. Around a third of coronavirus patients have a sore throat, which may be accompanied by a runny nose and/or congestion.
- Diarrhea and/or nausea. Among the symptoms of coronavirus are gastrointestinal issues, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain during the early phases of the disease. One study indicated about one in five coronavirus patients have gastrointestinal symptoms.
While most coronavirus patients have a mild or moderate symptoms, emergency medical treatment is needed if the patient has any of these symptoms: Trouble breathing; persistent pain or pressure in the chest; become confused; are unable to stay awake, or have bluish lips or face.
People who think they might have coronavirus should call their doctor or schedule a virtual doctor appointment vs. going to a doctor’s office or urgent care where they could expose others.
Coronavirus is much more contagious than flu and has a higher mortality rate, which is why it’s important for people with symptoms to get tested so that they can identify others who might have been exposed.
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