Recognizing the Symptoms of COVID-19

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Sniffles, sore throat and a little dry cough.

There are many common illnesses that show these symptoms and, while they might slow us down for a few days, we normally dismiss without much thought. But these days, COVID-19 may have us paying a little closer attention to our bodies and how we’re feeling.

What are the most common symptoms of COVID-19?

During the initial phase of the coronavirus outbreak around the world, health experts identified a set of symptoms most frequently associated with a cold or the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Are other symptoms being identified?

As more patients have been diagnosed, doctors have begun to identify additional symptoms, including fatigue, body aches, runny nose, nausea, diarrhea and a sore throat. The CDC has also created a list of emergency warning signs requiring immediate medical attention: trouble breathing, pressure in the chest, a new state of confusion and bluish lips or face.

A recent study of patients in Asia and Europe also reported a new symptom: the loss of smell or taste. While these symptoms are not yet officially confirmed, experts are monitoring patients closely and believe the loss of smell or taste could signal infection, even before other signs appear.

“While all of these symptoms can signal a coronavirus infection, they alone don’t confirm it. Many of these symptoms can also be associated with illnesses and conditions other than COVID-19, such as influenza, pharyngitis, gastroenteritis, and even seasonal allergies,” said Dr. Annamaria Macaluso Davidson, Occupational and Environmental Medicine Physician at Memorial Hermann Health System.

What should I do if I think I’ve been exposed?

Older adults and people with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes and heart or lung disease are still considered to be most at risk for the virus. However, new CDC data shows that nearly 40 percent of patients in the U.S. sick enough to be hospitalized are between the ages of 20 and 54—which is why it’s important for people of all ages to take precautions.

Take general preventive measures:  wash your hands frequently, and do so for at least 20 seconds; clean regularly touched surfaces; practice social distancing; and contact a healthcare provider if you start to develop symptoms. The incubation period varies by person, but can be anywhere from 2 to 14 days.

If you think you might have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus, it’s important to self-quarantine yourself and monitor for symptoms. Practice social distancing and abide by any ‘’stay-at-home’ orders in your community by staying home and isolating yourself as much as possible from other family members.

It is important to connect with your healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms – this can be done with virtual medicine, such as Memorial Hermann Virtual Care.  Through these visits, you can avoid unnecessary visits to the doctor’s office or emergency room, discuss concerns, assess symptoms and develop a treatment plan.

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