This spring, a ticklish throat will likely cause you to ask the question, “Is this an allergic cough or coronavirus?” There’s another option: You may have PASC–Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 Infection—also known as “long COVID.” It’s when symptoms linger for weeks or months after the coronavirus has cleared the body, and a new study from the Indiana University School of Medicine says that as many as 1 in 3 people who have COVID-19 develop PASC. What’s more, it can happen even if your initial coronavirus bout was mild or you had no symptoms at all. Here are five signs your illness is actually coronavirus in disguise. Read on and to ensure your health and the health of others, remember: Doctors Say “DO NOT” Do This After Your COVID Vaccine.
Like many viruses, coronavirus can make you feel run down, even if you don’t experience more obvious symptoms of COVID-19. And the tiredness can linger to become a hallmark symptom of PASC. The Indiana University researchers surveyed more than 5,100 COVID survivors who had symptoms 21 days or more after their infection; 79% reported fatigue.
Headache is such a common signifier of COVID-19 that researchers with the UK’s COVID Symptom Study called it a “dark horse” among early coronavirus symptoms. The researchers found that 55% of study participants experienced ongoing headaches—the second most common symptom after fatigue.
Shortness of Breath
COVID-19 causes inflammation throughout the body. In the lungs, that can result in long-lasting shortness of breath. More than 55% of the post-COVID patients in the Indiana University study said they still felt short of breath, and 49% reported continued coughing.
Brain fog—it sounds like a horror movie, and some PASC sufferers wouldn’t argue with that comparison. Difficulty concentrating or focusing is one of the most confounding long-term symptoms of COVID-19; it was reported by 54% of long-term COVID patients in the study.
Muscle or Body Aches
If you’re feeling like you overdid it at the gym—even though you haven’t been to the gym for months—you might have COVID or PASC. COVID-19 tends to cause inflammation throughout the body, and muscle pain is a commonly reported symptom. Just over 43% of people in the study said they were still dealing with muscle or body aches.
How to Survive This Pandemic
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.