As the Coronavirus continues to spread across the globe at an alarming rate, it’s easy to get drowned in a sea of paniced and inaccurate information on how best to protect yourself from the Coronavirus pandemic, and what sort of signs and symptoms you should be looking for.
On March 11th, almost 4300 people had died due to the Coronavirus, with over 118,000 cases worldwide. It came as no surprise then as the WHO declared the quickly spreading Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease a pandemic (1). But as of March 27th those numbers have jumped. The disease has resulted in an alarming 25,000 deaths and over half a million cases – 80,000 of which are in the USA.
Even though the disease has proven to be fatal, some of the symptoms could be mild and wrongly mistaken as a common flu. There are however, a few key differences that you should look out for. Despite the Coronavirus myths, younger people are also susceptible to the virus, and with possible serious consequences.
With scientists saying the virus could infect 40%-70% of the human population, it may be worthwhile to know exactly what sort of signs and symptoms you should be looking out for, what you can do to properly protect yourself, and when to seek help.
What is the difference between Coronavirus and Covid-19?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that have been known to cause respiratory and breathing problems. There have been previous outbreaks of Coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS diseases, the latest: COVID-19.
COVID-19 (“Corona Virus Disease 2019“) is simply a member of the Coronavirus family.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that COVID-19 is the name for the illness, that is caused by the novel coronavirus (2). As Teen Vogue puts it – sort of like “pitbull” to describe COVID-19, and “dog” to describe Coronavirus (3).
How does Coronavirus (Covid-19) spread?
You can catch the Coronavirus (COVID-19) from another person who has the virus.
The main way that Coronavirus can spread is through small droplets that are spread when a person who has Coronavirus coughs, sneezes, or even exhales (4) on objects and surfaces around them.
Other people then come into contact with these surfaces and droplets, then touch their mouth, nose, or eyes, allowing the virus to infect them.
Extensive research is still being done on the subject, but the suggestion that Coronavirus can remain airborne (5), has been proven to be false. Therefore Coronavirus particles cannot stay in the air.
Coronavirus symptoms usually begin to develop around 2-14 days after initial exposure (6). This is important because during this time you may have Coronavirus without realising it, and be a risk to spread the virus.
5 Signs and Symptoms you may have Coronavirus (Covid-19)
1. Fever (High temperature)
One of the most common and significant symptoms of the Coronavirus is having a fever.
A fever is when the body’s temperature temporarily increases as a natural response to illness (7). The body’s natural temperature is around 98.6 F (37C), but during a fever it increases to over 100.4 F (38.0C) (8).
A fever is usually accompanied by shivering and chills, nausea, painful joints, and headaches.
Based on confirmed cases by the WHO, 88% of infected people experienced high temperature (8). Fever as a result of Coronavirus is usually gradual, and varies from person to person.
Fever is usually the first sign of Coronavirus and shouldn’t be taken lightly. The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom recommends to notify health professionals (9) if you’ve had a fever for 7 days and still don’t feel better.
2. Dry cough
Having a dry cough is another common symptom. Over 74% of people infected with Coronavirus also experienced a dry cough (10).
A dry cough is also called a “non-productive cough, because no phlegm or sputum is brought up”(11). It’s usually also linked to a scratchy and itchy throat, with sudden urges of coughing.
A dry cough on it’s own may not be cause for alarm, especially if it’s still recent. However, a dry cough that has persisted for over a week, especially with a fever – may raise a red flag.
Feeling tired and lethargic are usually experienced by those infected with Coronavirus. Fatigue is usually a side effect of other symptoms of Coronavirus, most importantly fever, but also shortness of breath (dyspnea).
Fatigue is the feeling of general physical (and mental) exhaustion. Fatigue as a result of Coronavirus is usually associated with chills, joint pains, and even digestive problems and pains.
4. Sore throat
Having a sore throat is an extremely common complaint and can be caused by a hundred different reasons. But don’t panic if you experience a sore throat, and try your best not to rush to any conclusions.
A sore throat is a painful scratchy irritation of the throat that feels worse and more painful during swallowing (11). The first target of Coronavirus is usually the upper respiratory system, which involves the back of the throat.
The symptoms then usually start with a sore throat and a dry cough. After that, the virus then makes it’s way down to the bronchial tubes and the lungs (12).
Having a dry cough with persistent aggressive coughing can make a sore throat feel even worse.
5. Shortness of breath (Difficulties breathing)
In the past, previous Coronaviruses have been known to specifically target the upper respiratory system. One of the most serious and severe consequences of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is the development of pneumonia.
Pneumonia is an infection in the air sacs of the lungs, causing them to be filled with fluid or pus (13). Pneuomonia can range from being mild to life-threatening. One of the earliest signs of a developing case of pneuomonia is: shortness of breath.
Recovered cases of Coronavirus and pneuomonia have described the feeling as being able to use only part of your lungs. Shortness of breath feels like you can’t take a full satisfying breath, and can leave you gasping for air and tired (14).
If you notice that you’re panting regularly, or basic physical activities that never bothered you before, such as going up the stairs or even walking a slight distance across your home, leave you panting and breathless, then this may be cause for concern.
When to call a doctor?
If you have a combination of all the above symptoms then you should seriously consider seeking medical attention.
If you have a fever or a dry cough that hasn’t gotten better for over 7 days, you should contact your doctor or local medical authority.
It’s very important that if you have any of the above symptoms that you call before showing up at a clinic or hospital. This is so the health care workers can fully prepare to isolate somebody who may potentially be infected with COVID-19.
If you feel like you have a runny nose or basic symptoms of a mild cold, you don’t need to panic and call anybody. You should stay home, rest, and monitor your symptoms. If the symptoms get worse and you develop a dry cough, fever, sore throat, or shortness of breath then notify your doctor.