COVID-19 symptoms can vary, and there are a wide variety of signs and symptoms of Coronavirus that you should be aware of. It can range from no symptoms at all, to mild or vague symptoms, to severe symptoms or complications leading to hospitalizations. And even after you have gotten over the COVID-19 infection, you can have long term symptoms or post-viral complications, and this can really make you feel like you're in this thing for the long haul.
History of Covid-19
Let's discuss the difference between signs and symptoms. Signs are what you see, symptoms are what you feel. And certainly, the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 can vary widely. Just to give a little history, COVID-19 was discovered at the end of 2019 when there was a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China.
These cases were found to be caused by a novel coronavirus. The virus rapidly spread throughout the world and became a COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The World Health Organization named the disease 'coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19'. And it was determined that this novel coronavirus was caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome: coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2.
Covid-19 Incubation Period
Now in order to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, you must first understand its incubation period or the time between being exposed to the virus to actually developing symptoms. The incubation period for COVID-19 is between 1 and 14 days, meaning that you may be exposed to coronavirus, but not actually develop symptoms until 14 days later. That being said, most patients have an incubation period of between 4 and 5 days.
COVID-19 symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath.
- Generalized fatigue or malaise.
- Loss of taste
- Loss of the sense of smell.
- Pink eye or conjunctivitis.
- Sore throat
- Myalgias, or muscle aches.
- Skin changes or dermatologic changes.
- Red bumpy, small rash, or a maculopapular rash
- Hives or urticaria
Some patients with COVID-19 have even reported getting small blisters on their skin or secular lesions. If you are having shortness of breath with COVID-19 as many patients do, you may get a chest x-ray with the findings of bilateral infiltrates or signs of congestion of the lungs on both sides.
A chest CT scan may reveal a 'ground-glass' appearance, or 'ground-glass' opacities of the lungs, where the inside of your lungs literally looks like 'ground-glass' on the CT. If you have severe shortness of breath with a COVID-19 infection, you may even have a pulmonary embolism or a blood clot in the lungs. COVID-19 has been associated with thromboembolic disease.
Coronavirus patients with very severe shortness of breath can actually develop respiratory failure or ARDS, meaning that the respiratory system has been affected so badly that they actually require intubation.
If you have a COVID-19 infection, you can also get neurological symptoms which may include weakness, and or facial drooping. And in this case, you could have the complication of a stroke. Some patients with COVID-19 may develop delirium or confusion. They might have an increased amount of falls or just an overall decline in health. This can be common among elderly patients, especially patients over the age of 80 or in patients who already have an underlying neurological condition. Kidney disease can also be associated with COVID-19. And then there is the aftermath.
Long Term Effects Of Covid 19
In many patients who have had COVID-19, tested negative, and who have even developed their own natural antibodies, they still have some long term complications or some post-viral symptoms. Patients have been reported to have continued malaise, fatigue, and or headaches.
They have described having weakness or a 'pins and needles' neurological sensation in their fingers and their toes. You have patients who have described a brain fog or just confusion or forgetfulness that sometimes lingers over them, even after they have gotten over the COVID-19 infection.
So if you have had COVID-19, and you still have some of these lingering complications and symptoms, and your doctor has verified that you are no longer positive for Covid-19, you are not alone.
Many patients who are living with these post-COVID-19 symptoms, refer to themselves as the long haulers. And there is still much research to be done on this post-viral syndrome and how to properly treat it. Remember, even if you have no symptoms of COVID-19, if you have been exposed, you may be asymptomatic and asymptomatic patients are a large source of the spreading or the transmission of COVID-19.
Also, you must remember that COVID-19, this novel coronavirus is not the only virus that causes these symptoms. Please be sure to watch my YouTube video on influenza, the flu explained.
What To Do If You Think You Have Covid-19
If you do have any of these signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or if you suspect that you have been exposed to the virus, please contact your physician. If your symptoms are severe, and certainly if you are having respiratory distress or difficulty breathing, you need to be seen. You need to go to the emergency room or call an ambulance.
There is great research being done on how to treat COVID-19 and on vaccinations for COVID-19. But the most basic tools we have on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are wearing masks, socially distancing, and exercising good hand hygiene.