Sure Signs You May Have COVID, According to the CDC

The emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has brought many questions, and experts aren't sure if it's more transmissible or severe than previous iterations of the coronavirus. Even if you've been vaccinated, it's a good reminder to continue best practices to avoid contracting the virus, and to be familiar with COVID symptoms so if you experience them, you can get tested and limit spread of the virus. These are the most common signs you might have COVID, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


The Most Common Signs of COVID

Woman being sick having flu lying on sofa looking at temperature on thermometer. Sick woman lying in bed with high fever.

"People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported—ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness," says the CDC. The agency notes that most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

"Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus," says the CDC. "Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms."

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When to Seek Emergency Medical Attention

Doctor nurse in protective face mask listening to breath with a stethoscope suspecting Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Some symptoms of COVID indicate a medical emergency. These include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • The new onset of confusion
  • Inability to wake up or to stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds

If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 or seek emergency medical care as soon as possible.

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Are COVID Symptoms Different Now?

Woman blowing her nose into tissue

It's too soon to tell if Omicron causes different symptoms than previous variants of COVID-19. But researchers at the COVID Symptom Study have been tracking the symptoms of new COVID cases, and they report that symptoms related to the Delta variant have changed somewhat compared to earlier iterations of the virus. They say these are now the most commonly reported early symptoms, if you're vaccinated

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of smell

If you haven't been vaccinated, experts say your early symptoms are likely to be similar to earlier strains of COVID-19, including fever, a cough that may be severe, and body aches, along with runny nose, headache and sore throat.

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How Do I Know It's COVID?

Healthcare worker with protective equipment performs coronavirus swab on a woman.

COVID has a pretty long list of potential symptoms, and many of them can be related to other issues. A runny nose and cough, for example, might be due to allergies, a cold or flu. How do you distinguish between COVID and something more minor? You really can't, experts say.  The best thing to do if you're experiencing any unusual symptoms is to get tested for COVID as soon as possible—even if you've been fully vaccinated—and to self-isolate until you know the results.

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Nurse gives students a vaccination in school during coronavirus pandemic

Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, 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.

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