What Are The Symptoms Of The Novel Coronavirus? 5 Signs You Should Be Aware Of
If you’ve been feeling tired, stuffed up, or even a bit feverish, you might wonder: Could I actually have the coronavirus? It’s a fair question, considering the novel coronavirus (officially known as COVID-19) has spread from China to over 100 countries pretty quickly, and there are 17 confirmed cases in SA so far, per the latest report from the World Health Organization (WHO).
But it’s important to keep in mind that a COVID-19 infection is typically mild (especially if you’re young and healthy). That being said, in some cases, particularly those in older adults and anyone with a compromised immune system, it can get serious.
Here are the four established symptoms of COVID-19 that you should be aware of. Plus, read up on exactly what to do if you develop any of these symptoms, according to infectious disease experts.
A dry, persistent cough is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19, says Dr Faheem Younus, chief of infectious diseases at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health. Of course, coughing happens with all sorts of health issues, ranging from seasonal allergies to a typical cold.
However, both allergies and the common cold often come along with a runny nose or sore throat, in addition to coughing — and many people with the novel coronavirus don’t have either of those symptoms, he notes. It’s still possible to have a runny nose and sore throat with COVID-19, he explains, it’s just not the norm at this point.
2. Low energy or fatigue
If you can’t muster the energy to show up for your go-to workout, let alone get out of bed, intense fatigue could be another sign that your body’s working hard to battle an infection like COVID-19 (or, again, the flu), says Dr Younus.
READ MORE: How Long Do Novel Coronavirus Symptoms Last?
A fever (that may or may not come with sweats, chills, and muscle aches, too) could be a sign that your body is attempting to fight off an infection like COVID-19, says Dr Sandra Kesh, an infectious disease specialist and deputy medical director at Westmed Medical Group in Purchase, New York. That said, a fever can also indicate plenty of other illnesses, too, like the flu, bronchitis, or pneumonia. So keep an eye on your temp and call your doctor if your temperature hits 38 degrees Celsius or higher, says Dr Younus.
4. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Along with a cough, fever, and straight-up tiredness, shortness of breath (sometimes to the extent that you feel like you’re having a difficult time getting in enough air) is among the most common symptoms of novel coronavirus, says Dr. Younus. This is the case for around one in six people infected with the virus, and it might be a sign that your case is more serious, according to the WHO.
What about people who are losing their sense of smell and taste?
This is a real thing happening to a notable number of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the U.S. and other countries, according to a statement from ENT UK. Many doctors have also learned that some people who have tested positive for COVID-19 *only* experience this symptom.
This symptom is only based in anecdotal evidence as of now, but there are enough reported cases that medical professionals do believe loss of smell and taste should be considered a COVID-19 sign and should be screened for. (You can read more about this new symptom here.)
As you can see, the known symptoms of the novel coronavirus are pretty vague.
Like with a lot of the details surrounding COVID-19 right now, information about how it presents could evolve as doctors and researchers learn more about the virus. That goes for the signs and symptoms, too.
“Even when it comes to symptoms of novel coronavirus, much is unknown, and our understanding will evolve as studies of patients are published in the coming months,” explains Dr Younus.
There’s the possibility that other flu-like symptoms pop up in cases of COVID-19 (like congestion, a runny nose, sore throat, or even diarrhoea), but at this point, initial signs are typically as simple those listed above, according to the WHO.
If you’re worried you might have the new coronavirus, call your doctor to figure out next steps.
TBH, differentiating the symptoms of COVID-19 from those of some other illness is really tough, even for doctors. The only way to confirm that someone has COVID-19 is to test for it. “If two patients stand in front of me — one with a mild case of coronavirus and one with the flu — and tell me their symptoms, I cannot tell them apart,” Dr William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, previously told WH. “For that, we need to test.”
So what should you do if you feel sick with these symptoms? Share your symptoms with your doctor over the phone to start, and they can guide you on what to do next. They may want you to come in for a checkup, or to go to a specific location for COVID-19 testing if they suspect you do in fact have the virus. A doctor may also want to know if you’ve travelled anywhere recently, or if you’ve possibly been in contact with someone with COVID-19.
Or, your doc might reassure you that it’s more likely you have a typical cold or other infection. But either way, do not rush to the ER or urgent care without calling ahead, if possible, as they’ll need to prep for your arrival and protect other patients from being exposed if they think it’s necessary to bring you in for testing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Finally, remember this: “The vast majority — over 80 percent — of people infected with the novel coronavirus have mild to moderate symptoms — basically your typical cold and flu symptoms,” says Dr Kesh. “While the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions are at greater risk, for the rest of us, COVID-19 will be more of a nuisance than a real threat to our health.”
As you ride out the novel coronavirus outbreak, the safety measures you’d take to protect yourself and loved ones from the cold and flu are the way to go: Wash your hands often, stay away from other people if you feel sick (and away from those who are sick), and try to avoid touching your face.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com