As coronavirus cases overwhelm hospitals, and every state is considered a “danger zone,” knowing if you have the highly contagious virus is key. Who better to consult than Johns Hopkins, the private research university in Baltimore, Maryland, which has been on the forefront of tracking COVID-19 since it hit these shores? “Symptoms can begin between two and 14 days after you have been infected with the coronavirus,” advises the university. “The most common symptoms are” the following. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
You May Experience a Fever or Chills
“A fever is not an illness by itself. Rather it is a symptom that something is not right within the body,” says Johns Hopkins. “It may be a bacterial or viral infection.” It may be COVID-19. “Normal body temperature ranges from 97.5°F to 98.9°F (36.4°C to 37.2°C),” they say. “It tends to be lower in the morning and higher in the evening. Most healthcare providers consider a fever to be 100.4°F (38°C) or higher.”
You May Have a Cough
“COVID-19 can cause symptoms that are mild at first, but then become more intense over five to seven days, with worsening of a cough and shortness of breath,” says Johns Hopkins. The cough is often dry. “For some, pneumonia develops.”
You May Have Shortness of Breath or Difficulty Breathing
You may have difficulty breathing—and it could get bad. “COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, can cause lung complications such as pneumonia and, in the most severe cases, acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS,” says Johns Hopkins. “Sepsis, another possible complication of COVID-19, can also cause lasting harm to the lungs and other organs.” “Recovery from lung damage takes time,” Panagis Galiatsatos, M.D., M.H.S., an expert on lung disease at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, says. “There’s the initial injury to the lungs, followed by scarring. Over time, the tissue heals, but it can take three months to a year or more for a person’s lung function to return to pre-COVID-19 levels.”
You May Have Muscle or Body Aches
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, calls this “myalgia.” “Myalgia describes muscle aches and pain, which can involve ligaments, tendons and fascia, the soft tissues that connect muscles, bones and organs,” says Johns Hopkins. “Injuries, trauma, overuse, tension, certain drugs and illnesses can all bring about myalgia.” So can COVID-19.
You May Develop a Sore Throat
A sore throat is widely included in lists of the most common symptoms. “Common signs of coronavirus infection include runny nose, cough, fever, sore throat, and shortness of breath,” says Johns Hopkins. Read on for ones that are less common but no less worrying.
You May Experience a New Loss of Taste or Smell
“COVID-19 symptoms vary from person to person, but an overwhelming majority of people infected have one thing in common: They have lost some sense of smell and taste,” reports Johns Hopkins. “The most unique finding that occurs is that patients may lose their smell and taste in an isolated fashion,” Nicholas Rowan, M.D., an assistant professor of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says. “It happens all of a sudden and in many cases without any other symptoms.” Adds the hospital: “Emerging data shows the novel coronavirus directly infects the area of the smell nerve, he adds, and this may be how the virus gains entry into its human host.”
You May Have Diarrhea
“COVID-19 can present a variety of symptoms, but one potentially dangerous symptom most people aren’t particularly excited to talk about is diarrhea,” says Johns Hopkins. “An estimated 20% of COVID-19 patients are likely to experience diarrhea soon after contracting the disease.”
You May Have a Headache
You might get a headache, a “pain or discomfort in the head or face,” says Johns Hopkins, which some have described as a jackhammer. You may also develop a migraine, which might be accompanied by “nausea and vomiting, lightheadedness, sensitivity to light (photophobia), and other visual symptoms.”
You May Have New Fatigue
A proud fatigue may last long after you shed the virus. “There may well be a post-viral syndrome associated with Covid-19,” Fauci told the International AIDS Society last year. It resembles myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME, once known as chronic fatigue syndrome, he says. “There is no question that there are a considerable number of individuals who have a post-viral syndrome that in many respects incapacitates them for weeks and weeks following so-called recovery.”
You May Have Nausea or Vomiting
“The CDC notes that people with compromised immune systems, like those recovering from COVID-19, are at the greatest risk of developing diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms, including vomiting and nausea,” says Johns Hopkins.
You May Have Congestion or Runny Nose
Is your runny nose a cold? Or COVID-19? Discussing the symptoms with your doctor—or seeking a test—is the only way to know for sure.
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You May Have Just a Few Symptoms—or No Symptoms at All—and Still Have COVID-19
You don’t need a fever to have coronavirus. “Yes, you can be infected with the coronavirus and have a cough or other symptoms with no fever, or a very low-grade one, especially in the first few days,” says Johns Hopkins. “Keep in mind that it is also possible to have COVID-19 with minimal or even no symptoms at all.”
What to Do if You Think You Have COVID-19
“Some of these symptoms are very common and can occur in many conditions other than COVID-19,” says Johns Hopkins. “If you have any of them, contact a doctor or health care provider so they can assess your risk and help you determine next steps.” And follow Fauci’s fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.