Coronavirus: signs and symptoms of COVID-19

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Concerned you might be at risk of coronavirus? Here are the most common signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

By Dr Ravi Tomar – BSc AKC MBBS DRCOG DCH MRCGP PGCert

Coronavirus has now infected more than 3 million people around the world and claimed more than 211,000 lives. It has been labelled as a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is now recuperating after being treated in hospital for COVID-19, likened the virus to “an unexpected and invisible mugger” and described the pandemic crisis as a “fight… in which every one of us is directly enlisted”.

We spoke to Dr Ravi Tomar, GP at Portland Medical Centre, who shared the coronavirus symptoms to look out for, how to virus manifests itself in humans and the expected recovery period.Video Player is loading.

What is the coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a family of hundreds of viruses. While the vast majority of these viruses only affect animals, so far seven coronaviruses including this new virus are known to have made the jump to humans.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) – are two of the best-known examples of coronaviruses which have been passed on to humans.

The new virus, officially called COVID-19, is the latest to have infected humans. COVID-19 is believed to have originated in a seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, China.

Are you at risk of catching coronavirus?

Who is at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19? As with any virus, those with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk.

You are also identified as being at high risk if you are:

  • over 65
  • pregnant
  • morbidly obese
  • have a underlying conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney problems, cancer or HIV

Coronavirus signs and symptoms

What are the most common signs and symptoms of coronavirus? It is estimated that COVID-19 has an incubation period of 2-14 days, meaning it can take up to two weeks for an infected person to show symptoms.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have reported the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Continuous dry cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

However, a wide range of symptoms have been reported – ranging from mild to severe illness.

The Centre of Disease Control has updated its list of possible symptoms to look out for, these include:

  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

How do I take my temperature?

For adults, if your temperature is above 100.4°F (37.8°C), you have a fever.

For children, a child has a fever if their temperature is above 99.5°F (37.5°C).

Symptoms of a fever include: sweat, a warm forehead, headache, shivers, aching muscles, a rash, loss of appetite and feeling weak.

Use a digital, ear or forehead thermometer to take your temperature using the following guidelines. If you do not have a thermometer, using the back of your hand to feel somebody’s body warmth can be indicative of whether they have a fever.

What should I do if I have mild symptoms?

The current government advice outlines that those with coronavirus symptoms who live alone should stay home for seven days. For those who live with others, everyone in the household should not leave the house for 14 days, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not.

Most people are likely to experience mild symptoms and will recover at home with rest.

For those in good health, if they contract COVID-19, they are most likely to experience mild to moderate symptoms and will recover at home with rest and pain relief, such as paracetamol. However, it is still essential to self-isolate until told otherwise by a medical professional, as you could infect someone with a compromised immune system who could develop pneumonia.

When to go to hospital

The main reason people need hospital treatment is if they have trouble breathing.

If you are concerned or are struggling to breath, use the online NHS 111 coronavirus service to find out what to do. If you are unable to do this, you can call 111 by phone.

Coronavirus recovery

How long does it take to recover from COVID-19? Recovery really depends on the strength of the immune system and the severity of the illness. For people with an otherwise healthy immune system, recovery is likely to be similar to that of other upper respiratory illness such as flu.

As with any virus, those with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk of COVID-19.

People with mild symptoms may recover within a few days but many are finding the illness leaves them feeling exhausted and are taking several weeks to return to their normal activity levels. The more severe cases and those who develop pneumonia may take several months to recover to full health. Everyone’s recovery is different and it’s important to take things slowly.

Coronavirus prevention

How can I protect myself from coronavirus? With no vaccine currently available for COVID-19, the most effective way to protect vulnerable members of society from COVID-19 if you’re experiencing symptoms is to self-isolate to avoid potential spread. You should also seek remote medical advice via the NHS 111 service.

If you are in the high risk group and have suspected coronavirus symptoms, seek medical advice immediately to ensure your symptoms can be monitored and treated appropriately. It’s also worth reading our coronavirus prevention tips.

Net Doctor

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