A coronavirus is a type of common virus that can infect your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. They can spread much like cold viruses. Almost everyone gets a coronavirus infection at least once in their life, most likely as a young child.
Most coronaviruses are not dangerous, but some are. Those that cause Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS ) can be deadly.
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 heart disease.
Here’s what to look for if you think you might have COVID-19.
Researchers in China found that the most common symptoms among people who were hospitalized with COVID-19 include:
- Fever: 99%
- A dry cough: 59%
- Loss of appetite: 40%
- Body aches: 35%
- Shortness of breath: 31%
- Mucus or phlegm: 27%
Symptoms usually begin 2 to 14 days after you come into contact with the virus.
Other symptoms may include:
- Sore throat
- Chills, sometimes with shaking
- Loss of smell or taste
- Stuffy nose
- Nausea or vomiting
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.
Call a doctor or hospital right away if you have one or more of these COVID-19 symptoms:
- Trouble breathing
- Constant pain or pressure in your chest
- Bluish lips or face
- Sudden confusion
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.
Strokes have also been reported in some people who have COVID-19. Remember FAST:
- Face. Is one side of the person’s face numb or drooping? Is their smile lopsided?
- Arms. Is one arm weak or numb? If they try to raise both arms, does one arm sag?
- Speech. Can they speak clearly? Ask them to repeat a sentence.
- Time. Every minute counts when someone shows signs of a stroke. Call 911 right away.
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.
Other COVID-19 Symptoms
COVID-19 can also cause problems including:
Some doctors are reporting rashes tied to COVID-19, including purple or blue lesions on children’s toes and feet. Researchers are looking into these reports so they can understand the effect on people who have COVID-19.
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.
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
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.