What are the first COVID symptoms? A person infected with the virus may experience a dry cough, fever, and early fatigue. These symptoms appear gradually in some individuals, having a mild cough at first. Other people do not suffer from these signs although they are still infected. We then speak of “asymptomatic” patients, which makes detection of the disease much more difficult.
Most, Less and Serious Symptoms
Most common COVID symptoms:
Less common COVID symptoms:
loss of smell or taste
rash, or discoloration of the fingers or toes
For an elderly person, those around them may notice a sudden deterioration in their general condition, the appearance or worsening of mental capacities, a state of confusion, repeated falls, a rapid worsening of an already known disease.
Serious COVID symptoms:
difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
feeling of tightness or pain in the chest
loss of speech or motor skills
If you have severe symptoms, see a healthcare professional immediately. Before going to your doctor or health facility, always contact them by phone.
Individuals with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should seek treatment at home.
On average, it takes five to six days for symptoms to appear in a person infected with the virus. However, this period can be extended up to fourteen days.
The order in which COVID symptoms appear
Researchers from the University of Southern California have published a study on Frontiers in Public Health, on the appearance of the first symptoms of Covid-19. This is a discovery that could help enable earlier detection and treatment for numerous patients. They seem to manifest in a given order:
- Fever above 100.4 °F (38 °C) for two or three days
- Muscle aches
Scientists compared this analysis to the flu. For the latter, it is the cough that breaks out first, unlike Covid-19 which would first cause a high fever. Information collection took place in February in China, when the country was most affected by the disease in the world. 55,000 confirmed cases were used in the development of this study.
How to differentiate a cold from Covid-19?
When we wake up in the morning and face a series of sneezes or just have a runny nose, we can very quickly associate these symptoms with the coronavirus and not with a simple cold. However, one very important element must allow you to distinguish the two and prevent you from going to the doctor: fever. The Covid-19, unless you are an asymptomatic case, must initially cause a high fever of over 38 °. Although the common cold can bring a slight fever, most of the time you shouldn’t have this symptom but just mild fatigue which shouldn’t interfere with your daily activities. The common cold can or should also lead to a sore throat, sneezing, congestion and / or a runny nose, symptoms that should appear more slowly than with Covid, which makes them appear abruptly. Note also that sneezing is not a proven symptom of the coronavirus or even a runny nose.
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Is a runny nose a symptom of Covid?
Yes and no. Indeed, it is difficult to tell if a runny nose is a true symptom of coronavirus. Indeed, this symptom is quite regular for many people when they wake up and it does not mean that you have the Covid or that you are really sick. On the other hand, if the latter is accompanied by several other ailments such as cough, fever and even breathing problems, then yes the runny nose can be a mild symptom of the coronavirus.
Are fever and body aches symptoms of coronavirus?
As with the seasonal flu, fever and body aches are very common symptoms of Covid-19. The level of fever is variable from one individual to another, but generally the coronavirus causes a fever higher than 38 °. If you want to fight fever or pain, choose paracetamol over anti-inflammatory drugs and ibuprofen, which are suspected of worsening symptoms in coronavirus. If in doubt, stay home and call your doctor.
Is a lost sense of smell a symptom of COVID-19? What should I do if I lose my sense of smell?
Increasing evidence suggests that a lost sense of smell, known medically as anosmia, may be a symptom of COVID-19. This is not very surprising, because viral infections are a leading cause of loss of sense of smell, and COVID-19 is a caused by a virus. Still, loss of smell might help doctors identify people who do not have other symptoms, but who might be infected with the COVID-19 virus — and who might be unwittingly infecting others.
In addition to COVID-19, loss of smell can also result from allergies as well as other viruses, including rhinoviruses that cause the common cold. So anosmia alone does not mean you have COVID-19. Studies are being done to get more definitive answers about how common anosmia is in people with COVID-19, at what point after infection loss of smell occurs, and how to distinguish loss of smell caused by COVID-19 from loss of smell caused by allergies, other viruses, or other causes altogether.
Until we know more, tell your doctor right away if you find yourself newly unable to smell. He or she may prompt you to get tested and to self-isolate.
Sources: Harvard University, CBS News, University of Southern California
Photo credit: Pixabay